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Carlos Martínez upset with how Ronald Acuña Jr. circles bases during ninth-inning homer

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Braves outfielder Ronald Acuña Jr. aggravated his own team by not running hard on what turned out to be a long single to right field in the seventh inning of Thursday night’s opening game of the NLDS against the Cardinals. Two innings later, he would aggravate the opposing team.

In the ninth inning, with the Braves trailing 7-3, Acuña crushed a two-run home run to left-center field off of Carlos Martínez. Acuña could certainly watch this one, as it was measured by Statcast at 455 feet. He celebrated as he rounded the bases, motioning back at the Braves’ dugout with his teammates fired up about the comeback potential.

Per MLB.com’s Joe Trezza, Martínez wasn’t happy about the way Acuña rounded the bases. He was so flustered, catcher Yadier Molina had to come out to the mound to calm him down. Martínez would give up another long home run to Freddie Freeman, a 460-foot solo shot to straightaway center field, before buckling down to get the final two outs of the game to preserve the 7-6 victory for the Cardinals.

After the game, Martínez said, “I wanted him to respect the game and respect me as a veteran player.”

I get it — it’s a tense playoff game and everyone’s watching. Martínez’s ego was probably bruised from giving up the no-doubt homer. But for Martínez, of all people, to complain about showboating, that’s rich. Martínez is one of the game’s flashier pitchers. Fox Sports Midwest did a whole segment on how Martínez keeps his teammates “light,” celebrating home runs by splashing water in their faces.

Martínez was a welcome change from the Cardinals’ old, traditionalist ways. They ran the phrase “play the game the right way” into the ground so hard it could only be used ironically. The Cardinals needed Martínez’s exuberance, which is why it’s all the more disappointing to see him go down the well-worn path of “respect the game.”

In a way, the Braves and Cardinals matching up against each other is perfect. No two teams have embodied “baseball fun police” as much as they have over the last decade or so.

Phillies COVID testing reports no new positives

Phillies COVID testing
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Phillies COVID testing results revealed no new positives for the fourth straight day, the team announced this morning. As a result, they will resume their schedule tonight against the Yankees.

It’ll be the first game for the Phillies since last Sunday’s game against the Marlins. The Miami outbreak prompted the Phillies’ season to be shut down, but the lack of positive tests beyond team staff that had more direct contact with the visiting Marlins is an encouraging sign. The Phillies COVID testing strongly suggests that cross-team infection from on-the-field activity is not a significant problem. This could bode well for, say, the Brewers, who have been idled a few days due to the outbreak emerging on their would-be opponents this past weekend, the St. Louis Cardinals.

All of this, of course, puts the Phillies well behind their usual schedule. They’ve played just three games and have had minimal baseball activity in the past eight days. Whether that shows up in the performances of Jake Arrieta and Aaron Nola, tonight and tomorrow night’s starters, respectively, will be worth watching.

All in all, though, the Phillies COVID testing results are good news. And folks, we could use some good news right now.

UPDATE: The Marlins are negative too: