MIAMI — Matt Kemp didn’t expect to spend part of his 32nd birthday watching the Braves’ comeback win on TV, nor did Brian Snitker plan on watching the final 5 1/2 innings from a similar vantage point after getting ejected moments after Kemp did in the third inning.
But with the Braves cleanup hitter and interim manager watching from the clubhouse, the team rallied once again for a 3-2 victory that pushed their winning streak to a season-high seven games.
“It got a little emotional there for a while,” Snitker said, “but you know what, hell, this is a competitive atmosphere and why shouldn’t it? I mean, we’re trying to win the game. So it’s good. I appreciate the guys’ passion for what they’re doing. I really do. They’re guys I’d go to war with anytime.”
The Braves evened their record at 45-45 over the past 90 games, and assured they won’t lose 100, something that seemed inevitable when they started out 18-46 including 9-28 under manager Fredi Gonzalez before he was fired and replaced by Snitker.
Braves players have said they love how Snitker has their back, and he did again Friday night at Marlins Park, where the Braves trailed 2-0 after the first inning.
Freddie Freeman’s intentional walk loaded the bases with one out in the sixth and the Braves trailing 2-1, after Adonis Garcia’s ground-rule double put runners at second and third. And that’s when things started to get chippy between the Braves and home-plate umpire Adam Hamari.
After Kemp struck out for the second out of the inning, Nick Markakis worked a 3-1 count and took the next pitch for a would-be walk that would’ve brought in the tying run. The pitch was both high and outside, and Markakis turned toward first base before realizing Hamari called a strike.
Markakis said something to Hamari and gave him an exasperated look before getting back in the batter’s box, and when Markakis popped out on the next pitch he slammed his bat to the ground while running to first base.
Hamari had already stared at the Braves dugout after hearing some chatter directed at him following his missed call on the 3-1 pitch, and after Markakis popped out the ump stared into the Braves dugout and signaled the ejection for Kemp for yelling during and after the Markakis at-bat. Plenty of others were also chirping at Hamari, but Kemp got the boot.
After Snitker argued for perhaps 30 seconds and made it clear what he thought of the strike zone and the ejection of Kemp, Hamari gave the manager the heave-ho signal as well. Hamari had a bad strike zone and a bad attitude on this night, and apparently wasn’t in any mood to hear criticism or second-guessing.
While Snitker was on the field, Kemp came out of the dugout and was restrained before he could get to Hamari.