Before Cody Bellinger made history by becoming the first Dodgers rookie to hit for the cycle, there was some serious tension in the air at Marlins Park on Saturday night.
An angry Yasiel Puig nearly incited a bench-clearing altercation after taking several steps toward Marlins pitcher Jose Urena in the second inning. The result of which had Urena telling the media he thought Puig reacted “a little like a baby.”
Puig was reacting to Urena’s 96-mph two-seam fastball that sailed well inside and nearly clipped his belt buckle on the first pitch of his first at-bat. The outfielder suspected the pitch was in response to his big game on Friday night. Puig connected for two homers in a Dodgers come-from-behind win, including a go-ahead three-run blast in the ninth inning.
Puig undoubtedly put a little extra on his celebration on the second home run. That was a bat flip and slow trot too, but it didn’t appear to be enough to raise the Marlins ire. Urena attempted to make it clear after the game that Puig’s prior performance and celebrations had nothing to do with it. He was approaching Puig just like any other hitter, and that the temperamental slugger simply overreacted.
Jose Ureña on Yasiel Puig: "That’s a two-seam. I threw the same pitch by Taylor. He get like a little baby with that." #Marlins
— Matthew DeFranks (@MDeFranks) July 16, 2017
It wouldn’t be the first time someone had held that opinion of Puig. It probably won’t be the last. But it might be the strongest wording used to describe Puig’s often overzealous approach.
Urena had some surprising backup too. Puig’s own manager Dave Roberts echoed the same sentiments, though in gentler terms.
Dave Roberts saw no intent in Jose Ureña pitching Yasiel Puig inside. "Yasiel overreacted," he said.
— J.P. Hoornstra (@jphoornstra) July 16, 2017
We wouldn’t blame Roberts if his patience is wearing thin again as it pertains to Puig. Though the outfielder is having a strong bounce back season with 18 home runs, his behavior can still be maddening. We also wouldn’t blame Roberts if he was simply attempting to diffuse this situation before it escalated given the number of incidents the Dodgers have already been involved in this season.
In fact, these two teams have some bad blood dating back to a game on May 20 in Los Angeles. On that night, the benches cleared in the ninth inning after Dodgers reliever Ross Stripling fired a pitch behind Giancarlo Stanton. Marlins manager Don Mattingly was right in the middle of that memorable scrum, which he admitted stemmed from Corey Seager swinging at a 3-0 pitch one inning earlier.
It all comes across as a bunch of silliness, and it really is when it comes down to it. Despite the close pitch and insults that were hurled on the field, there were no ejections. The Dodgers ultimately got the last word there, knocking Urena out after three innings and winning the game 7-1.
Now we hope those insults don’t continue on Sunday, and that these teams are able to finish the series without adding another chapter.
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