By: Will Burchfield
It was nothing personal, purely business.
But when Todd Frazier stepped to the plate in the eighth inning on Thursday afternoon, he was a marked man.
The Tigers and Yankees had already engaged in an all-out melee. Two Tigers’ batters had been beaned since, including James McCann in the head, with a 98 mph fastball from Dellin Betances no less.
Retribution was in order, and it was on reliever Alex Wilson to deliver it.
So, with one out, nobody on and the Tigers ahead 9-6, Wilson drilled Frazier in the hip with a heater. That triggered yet another benches-clearing episode, the third one of the afternoon, and some more pushing and shoving at home plate.
But it was something — in Wilson’s mind — that simply had to be done. And he wasn’t afraid of admitting his intent afterward.
“My pitch, it was pretty obvious what happened. You gotta take care of your teammates sometimes. If me hitting a guy in the leg is what I have to do, then that’s what I did. Fortunately for me, I know where my pitches are going,” said Wilson, taking a veiled shot at Betances.
“I hit a guy in the leg today to take care of my teammates and protect them. It is what it is,” he added.
After Frazier absorbed the blow, he shouted at Wilson. Wilson put his hands up and shrugged. It was a matter of getting square.
“(Frazier) basically said, ‘You did it on purpose.’ And I said, ‘Hey, man, no hard feelings. But you gotta understand the way this game’s going.’ And he told me, basically, ‘I got you.’ And I said, ‘Okay, it could have been way worse,'” Wilson said.
Any player in a Yankees’ uniform was going to get drilled by Wilson in that scenario. It just so happened to be Frazier.
“I have no hard feelings toward Todd whatsoever. I think he’s actually a great ballplayer, I enjoy watching him play,” Wilson said. “It was just an unfortunate circumstance.”
By admitting the bean-ball was a calculated decision, Wilson opens himself up to punishment from MLB. He’s not too worried about it.
“I mean, I’m gonna get a penalty regardless, so it is what it is. This isn’t my first rodeo. I’ve hit a guy, been fined before. Unfortunately it was in a wild game today, but I think the league understands what happened today and we’ll move forward with it,” said Wilson.
Thursday’s drama was likely fueled in part by what occurred the last time these two teams met, in early August. Multiple Tigers’ hitters were drilled in that series, including Mikie Mahtook twice in the same game, once in the head.
“Obviously it hadn’t come up until today, so it’s one of those things that we had put past us. Then the game turns the way it did, with guys getting hit, and at some point you gotta make a stand for yourself,” Wilson said. “It is what it is.
“There might be some hard feelings between a lot of other guys, but as far as my actions today I’ve got no hard feelings toward anyone. I think in a week’s time or so we’ll all look back and it will be over with.”