Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Brewers Beat Marlins, 4-2, After Giancarlo Stanton Gets Hit in the Face

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The Milwaukee Brewers haven’t been playing well lately, to put it mildly. After losing more than they’ve won since the All-Star Break (with a record of 22-28 starting tonight’s action), the Brewers have needed wins in the worst way.

Enter starting pitcher Mike Fiers. Fiers has been brilliant since being brought up from AAA Nashville a month ago; he’s now won six games and lost only one, with an ERA of 1.74. More importantly still, Fiers has struck out 54 while walking only 10, and before tonight’s game had hit no batters. None.

What a difference one game makes.

With the Brewers up, 4-0, in the top of the 5th, Miami’s RF Giancarlo Stanton came up to the plate in a high-pressure situation. There were two outs and a runner stood on first; as Stanton leads the National League in both HRs (37) and RBI (105), he’s obviously someone Milwaukee — and Fiers — took very seriously.

Fiers was in an 0-1 count before he threw a pitch up and in to Stanton — the pitch that hit Stanton in the face, causing a nasty, gruesome injury with a great deal of facial bleeding. After several long, tension-filled minutes, Stanton was taken off the field in an ambulance cart, and the game resumed with an 0-2 count to emergency pinch hitter Reed Johnson.

Now, I’m a Brewers fan, but I honestly don’t understand why Stanton wasn’t awarded first base after getting hit in the face. Yes, he swung — a defensive swing, because his body was already in motion, trying to avoid the ball coming at his face — but the most important thing was that Stanton got hit in the face.

Everyone in the ballpark, much less every fan watching the Marlins-Brewers game, knows that.

Anyway, Johnson stepped into the batter’s box, and he, too, was hit by a pitch — this time on the hand. Again, there’s a defensive swing . . . again, the umps call a strike, and this time call it a strikeout due to a dead ball (the ball hitting Johnson’s hand, that is).

So even though the box score will not show that Fiers actually hit two batters, anyone with eyes knows good and well that Fiers first hit Stanton, a genuine MVP candidate for the NL, in the face. (Was it intentional? Of course not. But the fact remains that Fiers hit him.) Then, after the  umps did not award Stanton first base as they should’ve, Johnson stood in there against Fiers and Fiers threw it in more or less the same place — up and in — this time grazing Johnson on the hand.

The benches cleared after the second hit batsman, which is somewhat sensible. Former Brewer Casey McGehee, who knows Fiers, came out and yelled — either at the umps for not sending Stanton’s replacement to first base right off the bat, or for the umps perhaps crediting Fiers with the oddest “strikeout” I’ve ever seen . . . or maybe at Fiers**, who is known for being a control pitcher as his fastball tops out around 88 mph (which is very slow for MLB, these days). McGehee was ejected, as was Miami’s manager Mike Redmond, and everyone else was sent back to their respective dugouts to cool off.

I reiterate: I don’t believe Fiers was trying to hit Stanton. Nor, for the record, do I think Fiers was trying to hit Reed Johnson, either.

But the fact of the matter is, Fiers hit two guys on two successive pitches, one right after the other. And the umps didn’t send either one of them to first base.

Instead, both benches were warned that if anyone else was hit, the manager and pitcher would be concurrently ejected.

The Marlins did retaliate, of course, despite the umpire’s warning.

With two outs and no one on in the sixth, reliever Anthony DeSclafani promptly hit CF Carlos Gomez on the left elbow on the first pitch. And as expected, DeSclafani was immediately ejected, along with acting manager/bench coach Rob Leary.

The rest of the game was an afterthought, as it was obvious both teams were far more worried about Stanton’s injury than they were in finishing this game out. So while the Brewers did “win” this game, it didn’t really feel like one.

As for postgame reaction?

Both Brewers manager Ron Roenicke and Fiers said during comments to the media as shown by Fox Sports Wisconsin during their “Brewers Live” postgame telecast that they both hope Stanton will be all right — and of course Fiers wasn’t trying to throw at Stanton (or Johnson, either).

Marlins manager Mike Redmond’s postgame comments were also shown by Fox Sports Wisconsin. Redmond said that anyone being upset at the Marlins for being angry that their MVP Stanton’s season has probably ended due to terrible hit to the face isn’t being honest with themselves, because any team would be upset under these circumstances. And that he, personally, was very upset that Fiers hit two guys in a row with two pitches, but neither Marlin was awarded first base.

I think Redmond’s comments are understandable. I hope he knows that Fiers would not hit Stanton in the face intentionally, because Fiers isn’t that type of guy at all — he’s worked too long and too hard to get back to the major leagues after his mother’s untimely passing last year due to complications from lupus. But losing your MVP to a freak thing like that? I’d be upset, too, especially considering how Fiers hit Johnson on the next pitch in the hand, with neither of them being called a HBP by home plate umpire Jeff Kellogg.

Anyway, that was a very weird game, and a very odd victory that doesn’t at all feel like something the Brewers should celebrate.

Before I go, here’s the most current update on Stanton’s condition from MLB’s Joe Frisaro, one of the beat writers for the Miami Marlins. Frisaro Tweeted this in regards to Stanton’s injuries just a few minutes ago:

Giancarlo Stanton suffered a facial laceration requiring stitches, multiple facial fractures and dental damage

Obviously this is terrible news . . . certainly not the news I’d hoped to hear, especially considering the early news from the Marlins only said “facial laceration.” (Which, admittedly, seemed ludicrous. I suspected a broken orbital bone or possibly a broken cheekbone, considering, and “facial laceration” seemed remarkably light.) This will end Stanton’s season in a truly freakish way, something no one — not Mike Fiers, not the Brewers faithful, not anyone affiliated with the Marlins and certainly no one around MLB itself — wanted.

My hope now is that Stanton will make a quick recovery and be ready to go during Spring Training 2015.

———-

**Fiers looked wild all game. Perhaps the colder-than-average weather didn’t help, as it was 50 degrees at game time . . . yes, the Brewers have a domed stadium, and  the roof was closed, but that damp cold still seeps in and it does affect the pitchers.

##A personal update: I am recovering from surgery, and posts have been few and far between for the past week because of that. But I couldn’t let this one go by . . . really hope Stanton will be OK down the road, and had hoped that somehow he would escape serious injury.

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