He wasn't going to bring it up until absolutely necessary, but to say Giancarlo Stanton "owed Gerrit Cole one" entering Tuesday night's Yankees-Tigers game would be an understatement.
In fact, a much younger Stanton completely bamboozled Cole back in 2013, when both were in the National League with the Marlins and Pirates.
Cole was a two-time first-round pick, going first overall in the 2011 Draft after the Yankees had previously selected him out of high school in 2008. He was in the midst of his rookie campaign in '13, but it's worth noting for the purposes of the story he told Tuesday that the Pittsburgh Pirates were hardly "playing out the string" that year. They were highly competitive, finishing 94-68 and helping to turn around a city's baseball fortunes, one Michael McKenry dinger at a time.
Cole's Bucs entered Miami to play a three-game set at the end of July, starting the series 2.5 games back in the NL Central of the Cardinals, the team they'd ultimately finish behind (and be defeated by in a close NLDS). According to the righty, he attempted to bond with Stanton in the outfield as two Cali kids who'd "made it big" on the east coast, and the burly slugger confided in him that he'd love a few cracks at Cole's fastball in order to get his timing right/work on shooting singles the other way.
Cole got the start on Sunday afternoon for the rubber match, and dueled Jose Fernández to a tie before giving Stanton a mid-game shot at one of his heaters. Stanton did ... not keep his promise.
Giancarlo Stanton finally paid back Yankees ace Gerrit Cole Tuesday night
"Oh, sorry, man, see, the thing about my 'singles' is they all become long home runs lasered off the fish sculpture. My bad!"
No one knew Cole was harboring this grudge for a decade or had such a long-held connection to a player he'd never teamed with prior to 2020, but there was no better time to uncork this story than on a night where Stanton's two-out, 400th career home run handed a departing Cole the win in the Bronx after he'd already laid it all on the line.
From Cole's 99 MPH gas on his final pitch of the game in 90 degree heat, to Stanton's historic shot, to Anthony Volpe's standing ovation awareness, to Jasson Dominguez's first Bronx hit and ET gesture, Tuesday night's surprisingly entertaining game had it all. It also settled a beef than spanned a decade. Good to clean up the toxicity in this locker room once and for all.