It was a bittersweet day for the Atlanta Braves.
Saturday’s 10-1 win against the Washington Nationals officially clinched the Braves second straight postseason berth. Unfortunately, they also lost infielder Charlie Culberson, who was carted off the field after being hit in the face by a 91 mph pitch from Nationals reliever Fernando Rodney.
The frightening scene played out during the seventh inning. Culberson was squaring around to bunt when Rodney’s pitch sailed in and struck him below the right eye.
Home plate umpire Tim Timmons immediately called for medical attention. Athletic trainers from both teams quickly arrived and held towels to Culberson’s face.
Culberson was able to stand with assistance before being helped to the cart. He gave a thumbs up to the concerned crowd in Washington before being taken off the field.
Culberson was then transported to a Washington hospital. The Braves are expected to provide an official update on his condition on Sunday morning.
“He was good when he went to the hospital. I mean, he was alert and all of that stuff,” Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said, via USA Today. “I think it was bones around his eye.
“We just don’t (know) any of the extent of what’s going on yet. We are just praying for him and his family. That’s scary.”
Unfortunately, moments like this are part of baseball. So too is the responsibility of the players and umpires to play on. In this instance, that required Timmons to make a judgment call on whether Culberson made an attempt to bunt the same pitch that struck him.
The veteran umpire ultimately decided that Culberson did make an attempt, meaning he was charged with a strike and not awarded a hit-by-pitch.
Braves manager Brian Snitker was ejected soon after for arguing the call.
Snitker has been ejected after furiously arguing with the umps who called a strike because Culberson was squaring when he was hit in the face with Rodney's pitch— Mark Bowman (@mlbbowman) September 14, 2019
Adam Duvall finished the at-bat on Culberson’s behalf. He struck out. The Braves went on to score four runs in the inning with Ronald Acuña Jr.’s two-run double being the key hit.
Culberson, 30, has been a key player for the first-place Braves. He’s filled in at multiple positions while other players have been sidelined by injuries. He entered Saturday with a .259/.294/.437 batting line over 144 plate appearances.
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