Jose Fernandez is the best thing going for the Marlins right now. The 20-year-old rookie pitcher not only prevented the Phillies from scoring in his home debut at Marlins Park on Saturday, but he also drove in the Marlins’ first run with his first major-league hit.
Perfect, however, he isn’t.
Even though the Marlins pulled out a 2-1 victory, Fernandez was not awarded the win, through no fault of his own. And he had trouble trying to put on a jacket after reaching first on his single, bringing comic relief to the crowd and the Marlins’ dugout.
“Another laugher,” manager Mike Redmond said of Saturday’s nail biter before delivering a punch line. “The good news is that Fernandez just got his coat off.”
Fernandez pitched a gem for the second time in as many starts.
He held the Phillies without a run over six innings, gave up just two hits — a pair of singles in the second — struck out five and walked two.
He also came through for the Marlins at the plate.
After Adeiny Hechavarria ended a personal 0-for-17 slide with a two-out triple in the fifth for the Marlins’ first hit off Cole Hamels, Fernandez jumped on a high fastball and ripped it into left for an RBI single. Fernandez clapped with joy as he ran to first.
“Pretty happy,” Fernandez said.
Upon reaching first, the Marlins ran a jacket out to Fernandez, but the pitcher spent more than a minute trying to put it on. One of the sleeves was turned inside-out. The front of the jacket was zipped up part way. No matter how hard he tried, Fernandez couldn’t put it on, even with the help of first-base umpire Chris Guccione.
“It was weird,” Fernandez said. “I laughed about it. Nothing I could do.”
Said Redmond: “It was kind of a mess.”
But Fernandez is being handled with extra care because of his age and lack of experience, and after completing the sixth and throwing 83 pitches, was taken out. Fernandez capped off his evening by striking out Ryan Howard on a 3-2 curveball, underscoring the supreme confidence Fernandez has in all his pitches.
“I want to be one of the best ones around, and that’s what I work for,” Fernandez said.
But not long after Fernandez exited, the lead disappeared almost as quickly.
A.J. Ramos took over in the seventh and ran into immediate trouble, giving up a leadoff single to Domonic Brown, followed out one later by a walk to Freddy Galvis. Eric Kratz grounded into an apparent inning-ending double play. But after taking the throw for the force at second, Donovan Solano sailed his throw over the head of first baseman Greg Dobbs, allowing the tying run to score.
The Marlins were playing shorthanded without Giancarlo Stanton and Justin Ruggiano on Saturday. Stanton underwent a MRI earlier in the day that revealed a bruised left shoulder, and Ruggiano was scratched from the lineup just before game time because of tightness in his groin.
With those two missing, the Marlins’ lineup was noticeably light on pop. The starting nine combined for only 20 total home runs last season. Predictably, the Marlins failed to homer Saturday, have yet to homer in five games at home to set the Home Run Sculpture in motion for the first time, and have hit only two balls out in their first 11 games.
Still, the Marlins pulled it out in the ninth.
Polanco walked to start the inning before Phillies reliever Phillippe Aumont gave up a single to Dobbs that skipped off the glove of Kevin Frandsen, allowing Polanco to reach third.
Aumont struck out Austin Kearns and had two strikes on Chris Coghlan. But, with the infield playing in, Coghlan shot a grounder that second baseman Chase Utley couldn’t glove on the in-between hop. Polanco raced home with the winning run.
Fernandez hopped over the dugout railing to congratulations his teammates.
“I love to be out there helping them out,” Fernandez said. “It was a lot of fun. I still can’t believe I’m in the big leagues pitching, and I’m trying to help my team to win, and it’s just fun to be here.”