Marlins’ Stanton hit in face by pitch, suffers facial fractures
The Miami Marlins’ pursuit of a playoff spot evaporated to more serious concerns about the well-being of their best player after Giancarlo Stanton was hit in the face by a pitch Thursday night at Miller Park.
Stanton suffered a facial laceration requiring stitches, multiple facial fractures and dental damage. The Marlins’ star right fielder was taken off the field on an ambulance cart.
The Marlins said he likely wouldn’t need surgery. Stanton was expected to return to Miami on Friday for further evaluation.
A fastball by the Brewers’ Mike Fiers struck Stanton in the left cheek with two outs in the fifth inning of the Marlins’ 4-2 loss to the Brewers. Blood immediately began pouring from his mouth.
With his father looking on from the stands, Stanton remained motionless on the ground for several minutes before being lifted onto a stretcher. Blood had to be shoveled off the ground before the game could continue.
“It’s devastating for us. For his season to end like that, it’s not good,” Marlins manager Mike Redmond said. “We just lost the MVP.”
That is likely a death-blow to the Marlins chances as they are 5 1/2 games out of the last wild-card spot with 17 games remaining. But that was secondary to thoughts about Stanton’s condition.
“Definitely scary, and we’re hoping that everything is going to be all right with him,” Redmond said.
Stanton leads the National League in home runs with 37 and RBI with 105 is is a leading candidate for the Most Valuable Player award.
Fiers, a South Florida native who pitched for Deerfield Beach High and Nova Southeastern University, was shaken by the incident and near tears when he discussed it with reporters.
“It was very hard for me to take in everything at the moment and come back and throw another pitch,” Fiers said. “I just want to send my thoughts and prayers and everything to Giancarlo Stanton. You never think of throwing at somebody like that. Never in my life has that happened. I just feel very, very sad that I hit him. I’m sorry to their teammates, their fans, his family. It is just tough.”
Fiers sent a tweet directly to Stanton, which read, “@Giancarlo818 my thoughts and prayers are with you at this time. I feel horrible and hope for a speedy recovery.”
The incident led to a near-brawl when Stanton’s replacement, Reed Johnson, was struck by the next pitch. The Marlins’ on-deck hitter, Casey McGehee, became incensed, prompting both teams to rush onto the field.
Remarkably, both pitches were called strikes as Stanton and Johnson were deemed to have swung as the ball bore in on them. The result was an inning-ending strikeout.
McGehee, who played three seasons for the Brewers, and Redmond were both ejected in the ensuing argument. McGehee said he was tossed for arguing the strike calls on the two swings.
“I guess I’ve got to know better, but at the same time you see our best player laying there knowing he’s going ot the hospital and that is ruled a swing, and the next pitch hits the next guy, almost the same pitch, and that’s ruled swing too,” McGehee said.
The calls were made by first-base umpire D.J. Reyburn, and plate ump Jeff Kellogg said after the game that he concurred.
“I’ve never seen a guy get hit in the mouth and called for a swing. He’s out there bleeding at home plate, and for the first base ump to say he swung at that pitch, what a joke,” Redmond said.
The next inning, Marlins reliever Anthony DeSclafani hit Brewers leadoff hitter Carlos Gomez in the left elbow, and he was also ejected immediately by Kellogg. Marlins bench coach Rob Leary, who took over when Redmond was tossed, was automatically ejected.
Fiers had not hit a batter this season, and officially still hasn’t. He has been the Brewers’ one reliable pitcher during their recent struggles, winning six of seven starts since being called up from Triple-A Nashville on Aug. 9, including Thursday. That is half of the 12 wins they have had in 34 games since then.
Fiers left the game after the fifth inning despite having allowed no runs on three hits.
Marlins players were upset with his reaction to their frustration over the incident.
“Guys were chirping, at him and he looked over and throws his arms up in the air. You just hit one of our guys in the face, he’s probably done for the year, and that was the reaction that we got? I think that was probably the frustrating thing about it. What do you expect our reaction to be from our dugout?” Johnson said.
“When the very next pitch is right up around my face, I think that’s when guys had seen enough and wanted to express their displeasure.”
Johnson said he was trying to fend off the pitch and was surprised by the call that he swung.
Fiers said, “We were trying to just go up. The ball got away again. It was just really tough to settle down. A lot of tempers were flaring. For them to think that it was intentional, it is beyond me, and something I would never do.”
The Marlins were attempting to win the four-game series after taking two of the first three games. They seemed to be going through the emotions the remainder of the game.
“The reason it’s a tough one is we’ve probably lost the MVP of the National League for the rest of the year,” said Johnson. “I’ve been around for a couple of those. I saw it with Marlon Byrd and Jason Heyward, it’s obviously going to take time to get him back.”
Stanton, who has played in every game this season, doubled into the left-field corner in his previous at-bat in the fourth inning. The Marlins left the bases loaded without scoring when Fiers struck out McGehee, Marcell Ozuna and Adeiny Hechavarria.
Ozuna in the eighth inning tied a Marlins record by hitting a home run in his fourth consecutive game. The last to do so was Stanton, from Aug. 14-17, 2011. The two-run drive to right was Ozuna’s 23rd.
In quest of the series win, the Marlins needed a strong performance from right-hander Nathan Eovaldi, who instead continued a dismal second half of the season and fell to 1-7 since the All-Star break. The Brewers battered Eovaldi for four runs and eight hits, including two home runs, in four innings.
Ryan Braun, back after missing two starts with a right thumb injury, got the Brewers started with an opposite-field home run off a 96-mph fastball leading off the bottom of the second. The 13th homer off Eovaldi this season was the 230th of Braun’s career, tying the former Miami Hurricane for second on the Brewers’ all-time list with Prince Fielder.
Braun said it was difficult to focus on the game after Stanton was injured.
“It’s always a bit disturbing,” Braun said. “Our prayers are with him. I hope he’s OK.”
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