As soon as Fiers threw the pitch four years ago, he immediately put his hands over his head, and he later exchanged text messages with Stanton. Before he faced Fiers in April, Stanton said there was no bad blood between the two. He wrote it off as an unfortunate accident.
In three hitless at-bats since then, there had been nothing belying Stanton’s words. Fiers struck out Stanton looking at a slider in his first at-bat on Monday, but then fell behind him by 3-1 when Stanton came to bat with runners at the corners and two out in the third.
The next pitch, a fastball, tailed inside and hit Stanton in the forearm.
As Stanton gestured and glared, Fiers pleaded innocence. “I wasn’t trying to hit you,” Fiers told Stanton.
Fiers’s protestations did little to appease Stanton.
“If that happened before, you’re going to come in make sure you don’t hit me,” he said. “It doesn’t eliminate in — it’s still in the big leagues. But you’ve got to get over the plate or make sure you don’t hit me.”
When Stanton came to the plate again, leading off the sixth against Fiers with the Yankees trailing by 3-1, neither pitcher nor hitter was going to be cowed.
Fiers threw a letter-high fastball that Stanton took a mighty hack at and missed. Fiers came right back with a fastball on the inner half of the plate that Stanton hooked down the left-field line. On the next pitch, McCann set up high — as if he was trying to sucker Stanton into thinking a fastball was coming.
Instead, a curveball broke over the middle of the plate, and Stanton did not miss it.
“It was nice,” Stanton said. “A win would be better. Oh, well.”