Ronald Acuna Jr. got under the skin of both teams on Thursday night.
After locking down the St. Louis Cardinals' victory in Game 1 of the NLDS, closer Carlos Martinez had some choice words for the Atlanta Braves outfielder regarding his baserunning. Acuna mashed a two-run homer off Martinez in the ninth inning that cut into the Cardinals' lead and displayed plenty of emotion as he rounded the bases.
Martinez took exception to Acuna deploying a shuffle-step as he trotted around third base, according to Mark Saxon of The Athletic. He was apparently so aggravated by what happened that catcher Yadier Molina needed to use a mound visit to calm the pitcher down, according to Joe Trezza of MLB.com.
"I simply want him to respect the game and respect me as a veteran player," Martinez told reporters. "That's it. Just play the game."
Emotions may have been running high for Martinez on Thursday, as he was apparently pitching with a heavy heart. The 28-year-old told Saxon that a family friend who was like a mother to him died on Wednesday in the Dominican Republic.
Martinez, a former All-Star starter, made a near-seamless transition to closing this year, saving 24 games with 53 strikeouts and a 2.86 FIP while giving up just two homers in the regular season. But he's had zero success against Acuna, who is now a lifetime 3-for-3 with three RBIs and a walk against the veteran hurler.
Acuna's baserunning made headlines for a different reason earlier in Game 1 when he failed to hustle out of the batter's box on what should have been a seventh-inning double, angering his Braves teammates.