Fiery night in At­lanta as Jays downed, 8-4

Bat­ters hit, benches clear in nasty in­ter­league play

The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS - DAVID O’BRIEN

AT­LANTA — The At­lanta Braves wanted to bring mo­men­tum they es­tab­lished on the road trip home with them and get things on the right track at SunTrust Park.

They did that with a six-run first in­ning Wed­nes­day night that pro­pelled them to an 8-4 win against the Toronto Blue Jays in an in­ter­league base­ball game that fea­tured two benches-and-bullpens clear­ing in­ci­dents and an early exit by the Braves’ best hit­ter, Fred­die Free­man, af­ter he was hit by a pitch.

Braves fans could only cringe and hope that Free­man won’t have his sen­sa­tional sea­son de­railed af­ter be­ing hit in the left hand or wrist in the fifth in­ning. The Na­tional League home run leader had two stints on the dis­abled list for in­juries to his left wrist in 2015.

The night was oth­er­wise sat­is­fy­ing for the Braves, who got a three­run homer from Kurt Suzuki in the first in­ning and cruised to their fifth win in six games and third straight against the Blue Jays. That in­cluded wins Mon­day and Tues­day in Toronto be­fore the teams jet­ted south for two at SunTrust Park to open a nine-game Braves home­s­tand.

Braves starter Mike Foltynewicz hit the lead­off bat­ter, Devon Travis, in the next in­ning af­ter Free­man was hit by left-handed re­liever Aaron Loup. Blue Jays pitch­ers have hit seven Braves bat­ters in the se­ries in­clud­ing a fran­chise-record five in Mon­day’s game.

Tem­pers flared and both benches and bullpens emp­tied in the sev­enth in­ning when Toronto’s Kevin Pil­lar shouted at re­liever Ja­son Motte af­ter strik­ing out to end the in­ning, Pil­lar ap­par­ently up­set at be­ing “quick pitched.” There was no shov­ing, no punches, just shout­ing be­fore um­pires sent every­one back from whence they came.

All par­ties re­turned to the home­plate area af­ter Jose Bautista’s solo eighth-in­ning homer against re­liever Eric O’Fla­herty. Some Braves were up­set when Bautista flipped his bat af­ter the homer — the Jays trailed 8-3 at the time — and it ap­peared that first base­man Jace Peter­son said some­thing to him as he rounded first base and catcher Suzuki ex­changed a few words af­ter Bautista crossed the plate.

Bautista seemed cor­dial with Suzuki and had turned to go back to the Toronto dugout when play­ers from both benches and dugouts raced onto the field. There was more shout­ing and a mass of play­ers in prox­im­ity around the home­plate area, but again no punches or shov­ing.

JOHN BAZEMORE, THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Toronto starter Joe Bi­agini re­acts af­ter giv­ing up a home run in the first.

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