Fans rush field, accost Braves’ Ronald Acuna Jr.
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Fans rush field, accost Braves’ Ronald Acuna Jr.

Jul 17, 2023

by: The Associated Press

Posted: Aug 29, 2023 / 07:28 AM EDT

Updated: Aug 29, 2023 / 10:43 AM EDT

DENVER (AP) — Ronald Acuña Jr. fended off two fans, including one who made contact with him in right field, while sparking the Atlanta Braves to a 14-4 rout of the Colorado Rockies on Monday night.

One fan got his arms against Acuña during the middle of the seventh inning, just after Atlanta scored four runs to open a 9-4 lead. Two security people quickly grabbed the fan and, as they tried to drag him away, a third security person approached.

A second fan then sprinted toward the group, knocking down Acuña, and that fan was tackled as one of the security people chased him down.

Acuña wasn’t injured and remained in the game.

“I was a little scared at first,” Acuña said through an interpreter. “I think the fans were out there and asking for pictures. I really couldn’t say anything because at that point, security was already there and we were already kind of tangled up, but security was able to get there and everything’s OK. We’re all OK and I hope they’re OK.”

Teammate Kevin Pillar expressed relief Acuña wasn’t hurt.

“Thankfully, they weren’t there to do any harm, but you just never know during those situations,” said Pillar, who was among the teammates and coaches who rushed to Acuña’s defense. “They were extreme fans and wanted to get a picture, put their hands on him. But in no way is it appropriate for people to leave the stands, even more to put their hands on someone else.”

Acuña tied career highs with four hits and five RBIs, hitting his 29th home run and stealing two bases to increase his major league-leading total to 61. He is one homer shy of becoming the first 30/60 player.

Major league-best Atlanta (85-45) had 18 hits. The Braves have won four of five and 10 of 13.

Colorado (49-82) was assured its fifth consecutive losing season.

Acuña became the fourth player 25 or more homers and 60 or more steals, joining Hall of Famers Joe Morgan (1973, ’76) and Rickey Henderson (1986, ’90) along with Eric Davis (1986).

Acuña, who leads the major leagues with 119 runs, scored on Austin Riley’s third-inning homer against Austin Gomber and hit a two-run homer in the fifth off Karl Kaufmann (1-4).

Acuña singled leading off the seventh and stole second off Evan Justice, getting a huge jump and sliding into second as Justice threw vainly to first. He scored on a single by Riley, who had three RBIs.

Acuña singled in the eighth and stole second off Tommy Doyle without a throw.

“He’s a special, special player, a gifted young man,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “Anything he’s going to do in this game is not going to surprise me. I just think he’s that talented.”

Pillar put the Braves in front to stay at 5-4 with a sacrifice fly in the sixth, then robbed Nolan Jones of extra bases in the bottom half with a spectacular diving catch in left.

Sean Murphy doubled three times and drove in a run for the Braves, who have won six in a row at Coors Field.

Ryan McMahon homered for the Rockies, who fell to 0-5 this season against the Braves.

“They’ve got a good ballclub, no doubt,” McMahon said. “They’ve got some really special players over there.”

Braves All Star second baseman Ozzie Albies went 0 for 4 in his return from the injured list after missing 12 games due to a strained left hamstring.

Bryce Elder (11-4) won his third straight decision, allowing four runs and eight hits in six innings.

Gomber’s velocity was down about 3 mph on all his pitchers and left with back soreness after giving up a triple to Matt Olson with two outs in the third. Gomber said he hopes to take his next turn in the rotation.

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