Tuesday night, the St. Louis Cardinals thoroughly demolished the Atlanta Braves in Game 5 of the NLDS (STL 13, ATL 1). St. Louis scored 10 runs in a historic first inning to put the game out of reach early. They will play either the Dodgers or Nationals in the NLCS.

There were some fireworks in the fifth inning Tuesday. Cardinals starter Jack Flaherty drilled Braves wunderkind Ronald Acuna Jr. in the shoulder with a two-strike fastball, and Acuna didn’t like it. He had some words for Flaherty as he made his way down to first base.

The benches did not clear but warnings were issued. The Braves had a chance to hit Flaherty in retaliation in the next half-inning, but declined to do so. There were no other beanballs or even close inside pitches the rest of the game. The bad blood died there.

Marcell Ozuna was hit by a pitch earlier in the game and it’s possible Flaherty, who was nearing the end of his outing, hit Acuna as payback. Doing so in a two-strike count would be unusual — purpose pitches usually come early in the count — but not unheard of.

Following Game 5, Flaherty said he was simply trying to pitch Acuna inside with two strikes, and keep him from trying to extend his hands. Here’s what Flaherty said (CBS Sports video):

“I don’t know what he said. He took exception to getting hit. But that’s the way it is. We were trying to go in and get in there. We go in, we’re going to go in tight. I’ve gone in tight on a bunch of those guys in this game and in this series and that one went a little bit tighter than we wanted. So he took exception to it. And the series is over. It’s done with. We’re moving on.”

Getting hit by a pitch is no fun and lots of players, Acuna included, take exception. This is a player who’s been intentionally targeted by numerous pitchers in his brief MLB career (remember the Jose Urena incident?) simply because he’s really, really good. Of course he’s not going to be happy getting hit by a pitch during a game in which his team is getting destroyed.

Long story short, a pitcher possibly hit a player on purpose after one of his players got hit, and claimed he was only trying to pitch inside. The hitter didn’t like it because getting hit by a pitch is no fun. Bean ball controversial 101.


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