Fiery night in Atlanta as Jays downed, 8-4
Batters hit, benches clear in nasty interleague play
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.
Toronto starter Joe Biagini reacts after giving up a home run in the first.