Marlins’ Don Mattingly: Umps were ‘bullied’ into ejecting Pablo Lopez for hitting Ronald Acuna Jr.

By | July 3, 2021

The Marlins lost their starting pitcher after one pitch Friday night. Pablo Lopez was ejected for hitting the Braves’ Ronald Acuna Jr. in the triceps with a 91 mph fastball to lead off the bottom of the first inning.

But Lopez was tossed only after the umpires, led by crew chief Dan Iassogna, conferred on the field. And they met only after Braves manager Brian Snitker roared out of the dugout to make a fuss. Snitker was angry that another Marlins pitcher had plunked his star outfielder. The Acuna HBP count vs. Miami is now up to six in 55 games, counting the playoffs.

“It’s the third time they’ve hit him with the first pitch of the game. I didn’t know what was going to happen. I’ve watched it too much,” Snitker told reporters, per

The process left Marlins manager Don Mattingly thinking that Snitker worked over the crew to his team’s benefit.

“Basically, Dan got bullied into it,” Mattingly said in his postgame Zoom call with media. “When it happened, nobody said anything.”

Mattingly and Marlins pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre Jr. were ejected for arguing. Mattingly said multiple times that the crew “mishandled” the situation.

“I’m really disappointed in the umpiring crew,” he said.

MORE: Acuna enjoyed going deep against Urena in ’19

Braves TV analyst Tom Glavine disagreed with the ejection, too, and questioned why the umpires needed to confer.

“If you’re not going to (eject Lopez) right away, then what are you getting together and having a meeting for?” Glavine said.  

Mattingly and Lopez both said the pitch was unintentional. Lopez, in fact, winced after the pitch struck Acuna.

“That was just a poorly executed sinker,” Lopez said. “The ball just ran instead and unfortunately it hit him. That’s not what you want on the first pitch of the night.”

After eventually taking first base, Acuna came around to score the game’s only run in a 1-0 Atlanta victory.

He said through an interpreter postgame that the previous plunkings made him unsure whether this one was intentional.

“Whether it was or wasn’t, doesn’t matter to me. My only focus is that the team won,” Acuna said, per the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Mattingly said that Iassogna told him history was a factor in Lopez getting tossed. In August 2018, Jose Urena drilled Acuna in the left elbow with a 97 mph fastball to lead off a game, after Acuna had hit Marlins pitching hard in previous games. Urena, like Lopez, was ejected after one pitch. MLB later suspended Urena, who’s now with the Tigers, for six games.

Mattingly was adamant that what happened Friday was unrelated to three years ago. He also tried to point out that the Braves aren’t innocent. 

“There is absolutely nothing going on this year with the Braves,” Mattingly said. “And when Dan tells me because of the history and it always happens and it’s always Acuna, it’s just not true. Just not true. I’m pretty sure (Miami third baseman) Brian Anderson’s been hit six times since Acuna’s got hit. I think (shortstop Miguel Rojas has) maybe (been) hit just as many. (Ex-Marlin) Pete O’Brien’s got a broken rib from (Braves pitcher Mike) Soroka, 100 percent on purpose (in 2019).

“It’s over, ’18’s over, and for Dan to tell me that this is a history, there’s been history in the past from a guy who’s not even with us anymore.”