Clint Barmes was the Pirates’ primary shortstop this season, but after going 0-for-2 with an error against the Cardinals in Game 1 of the NLDS manager Clint Hurdle has decided to bench him for Game 2.
Jordy Mercer will start at shortstop, which is definitely an offense-for-defense swap. Mercer hit .285 with eight homers and a .772 OPS in 365 plate appearances this season while seeing action at shortstop and second base. Barmes, meanwhile, hit just .211 with a .558 OPS and was more or less just as bad for the Pirates last year too.
Meanwhile, just two days ago Hurdle talked about the importance of sticking with Barmes despite his lack of offensive production, telling Tom Singer of MLB.com:
For us older men, we always talked about the strength of the ball club being up the middle with your catcher, your second baseman, your shortstop and your center fielder. He’s given us that opportunity to be stronger. … Barmes has been an impact defender for us. Those that have watched our club throughout the season, there’s games when he makes plays that nobody else we have can make.
And one game later, Hurdle has benched Barmes.
The Braves and Marlins have some bad blood, especially concerning Ronald Acuña Jr. Around this time last year, José Ureña intentionally threw at Acuña in the first at-bat of a game, leading to a benches-clearing incident. Acuña was hit on the elbow and exited the game but was ultimately fine. Acuña’s crime? Just being good at baseball. At the time, he had homered in five consecutive games, including three games against the Marlins.
In 2019, the first-place Braves and last-place Marlins have mostly minded their own business. The Marlins, however, can certainly keep a grudge it appears. With his first pitch in the bottom of the first inning Tuesday night in Atlanta, Marlins starter Elieser Hernández hit Acuña in the hip.
Home plate umpire Alan Porter issued warnings to both dugouts. Braves manager Brian Snitker wasn’t happy about his side having received a warning for no reason, and was ejected by first base umpire Mark Wegner. Hernández would hit Adeiny Hechavarría with a pitch in the fourth inning — seemingly unintentionally — and was not ejected. Other than that, there were no more incidents and cooler heads prevailed.
Acuña finished 1-for-4 in the Braves’ 5-1 win. Freddie Freeman hit two home runs and knocked in four runs.