In Thursday’s Game 1 of the Braves-Cardinals NLDS matchup, Cardinals closer Carlos Martínez gave up a two-run home run to Braves outfielder Ronald Acuña Jr. Acuña, clearly pumped by the homer, watched it fly and celebrated with no small amount of exuberance as he rounded the bases.
This, you’ll recall, agitated Martínez, who said after the game that he didn’t care for Acuña’s antics and that he “wanted [Acuña] to respect the game and respect me as a veteran player.”
Flash forward to last night, when Martínez was called on to protect the Cardinals’ 1-0 lead in the top of the ninth inning. He gave up a leadoff double to Josh Donaldson, who was replaced by pinch runner Billy Hamilton. Check out Martínez blowing a kiss to Hamilton at second base:
I actually think that’s kind of funny and would love to see more low-level in-game taunting like that, but Martínez’s “respect the game” schtick sort of undercuts his claim to irreverence, no?
Two RBI hits later the Braves had taken the lead from the Cardinals and Martínez was still in the game to face his nemesis from Thursday, Acuña. He walked him on six pitches, with balls 1, 3, and 4 all coming inside, two of which were high-and-tight. It’s not hard to conclude that, having blown the lead, Martínez was trying to take out his frustrations on Acuña. After ball 4, he still obviously had frustrations, however:
The Braves have certainly gotten under Martínez’s skin in this series. And have tagged him twice in the process. All of which makes you wonder if Martínez’s skin isn’t a little too thin. All of which makes you wonder if there isn’t a competitive utility to big celebrations of home runs.
All of which makes you wonder if, in the event the Cards have a late lead to protect this afternoon in Game 4, Mike Shildt even bothers to get Martínez up in the bullpen.