DETROIT -- Tempers flared between the Yankees' Giancarlo Stanton and Tigers starter Mike Fiers in the third inning at Comerica Park on Monday night, when Stanton was hit by a pitch on the left forearm just below the elbow guard to load the bases with two outs. The plunking led to Stanton and Fiers exchanging words, with Tigers catcher James McCann holding Stanton back from approaching the mound.
Stanton made it clear after the Yankees' 4-2 loss in Game 2 of the doubleheader that he wasn't happy with what transpired. Despite Fiers' command issues, the Yankees' slugger said there was no excuse for throwing high and tight when that's how he got injured in the first place.
"I'm not trying to stir this up, that just is what it is, obviously," Stanton said. "Anything like that that happens, no matter how many years it is, I'm not going to be happy. I'm not going to just walk to first and be OK, but it is what it is."
It has been four years since the incident between Fiers and Stanton. Yet not long enough for the emotional reactions to fade, even if the pitch wasn't intentional. Stanton acknowledged after the game that he knew Fiers wasn't intending to throw at him. It's a risk taken every time he steps to the plate. For Stanton, though, intent doesn't matter.
The tense walk to first base, along with the exchange of words between the two players, wasn't the end of the short-lived dustup. Stanton later tagged Fiers with a leadoff home run in the sixth inning, his 13th of the season, which he punctuated with a dramatic bat drop and glare in Fiers' direction. The Tigers' right-hander, who watched the ball leave the park, later expressed his dissatisfaction with how Stanton handled the situation overall.
"I understand ... but the way he handled it, I think it was kind of childish," Fiers said. "Anybody knows I'm not throwing at him. He's going to act how he's going to act. It kind of shows his character, because obviously I wasn't throwing at him. The pitch was in. If I could throw a pitch anywhere I wanted every time, I'd probably be one of the best pitchers in this game. I have to throw in, I have to throw up, I have to throw it everywhere to keep these guys from making good contact."
Stanton and Fiers have a notable history. A pitch from Fiers on Sept. 11, 2014, hit Stanton, then with the Marlins, in the face and ended the slugger's season. The 88-mph fastball from Fiers, then with the Brewers, struck Stanton on the left side of his jaw, leaving him bloodied as he was carted off the field with several facial fractures and dental damage. Stanton missed the remainder of the 2014 season, finishing with 37 home runs and 105 RBIs over 145 games.
Stanton continues to wear a face guard across his left jaw line for protection. Fiers' control had been off for most of Monday evening, and it wasn't the first time he came close to hitting a Yankees batter. Stanton, though, was visibly upset and shook his head as he headed to first base.
A few players from both benches spilled onto the field, but a full clearing of the benches never occurred. Tigers first baseman Jose Cabrera initiated a conversation between the umpires and Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire, but predominant tensions cooled at that point.