Considering how poorly the Milwaukee Brewers have played over the past several weeks, you would think the team would be ready to pop open a bottle of champagne after any win at this point.
However, the mood in the Brewers’ clubhouse was anything but celebratory after their 4-2 victory over the Miami Marlins Thursday night.
The reason behind this, of course, was the horrific injury suffered by Miami slugger and NL MVP candidate Giancarlo Stanton in the fifth inning.
It’s difficult to envision a more graphic and devastating scene play out on a baseball diamond than what happened at Miller Park, when an 88 mph fastball got away from Milwaukee starter Mike Fiers and drilled Stanton in the face.
Stanton went down hard and bled profusely as Miami’s medical staff and Brewers’ doctors tended to him. Stanton had to be taken off the field in an ambulance and his blood had to be removed from the batter’s box before play could resume.
But the mood went somber to contentious in just one pitch. Since Stanton swung when he got hit, Reed Johnson came on to finish the at-bat. A visibly shaken Fiers hit Johnson on the hand, but he also swung, resulting in a bizarre strikeout and an extremely pissed off Casey McGehee.
Both benches quickly cleared after Fiers reacted to the vocal displeasure from the Marlins’ dugout, with McGehee, who was livid with the umpires, and Miami manager Mike Redmond getting ejected and both benches being warned.
Marlins reliever Anthony Desclafani beaned Carlos Gomez in the sixth and was ejected, but thankfully Gomez calmly took his base to prevent an already tense situation from devolving into full-blown chaos.
The Brewers held on to pick up their second straight win to boost their rapidly decreasing playoff hopes, but the game’s final score was the furthest thing from either team’s minds afterward.
For Miami, its already slim chances of making the postseason have been all but dashed, but the greater concern lies in the long-term health of its All-Star right fielder.
Stanton suffered multiple facial fractures, dental damage and a facial laceration as a result from the incident, but it appears he may have lucked out (if you want to call it that) by avoiding any significant damage to his orbital. While the road to recovery obviously won’t be easy, an eye-related injury would be even more problematic and could even have ended his career (like Juan Encarnación).
Though the main concern among players, fans and media has been and should be for Stanton’s health, there should be worry over Fiers’ psyche as well.
Aside from a certain segment of baseball fans that are convinced that it must be intentional every time a pitcher hits a batter, it’s safe to say that almost everybody realizes that Fiers didn’t try to hit Stanton or Johnson. Fiers was clearly distraught after Stanton’s injury and had to fight back tears when talking about the situation after the game.
Fiers himself is no stranger to overcoming adversity, having dealt with not only a broken arm that resulted from a line drive back at him last year, but also the death of his mother from lupus.
Fiers has fought back in 2014 and has been nothing short of spectacular for the Brewers since being recalled from Triple-A in August and has been one of the few bright spots for the team during their recent slide in the standings.
His continued success is pivotal for Milwaukee in its push for the postseason, and hopefully this unfortunate situation doesn’t derail him mentally.
A freak accident occurred at Miller Park Thursday night that left one of the MLB’s brightest young stars lying in a pool of his own blood. In situations like these, nobody is a winner and you can only hope that there aren’t any negative long-term effects for anyone involved.