A year ago, Jose Fernandez and Marcell Ozuna were tearing it up in the low minors, far from the spotlight of the majors. On Saturday, the two youngest Marlins put it to the Philadelphia Phillies in front of 40,091 at Citizens Bank Park.
Fernandez, 20, pocketed his first major league victory, delivering seven shutout innings as Marlins pitchers combined on their first one-hitter since 2011 while Ozuna, 22, clobbered his first big-league home run in a 2-0 triumph over the Phillies.
It marked only the third time the Phillies have been one-hit in their home park, which opened in 2004. They have never been no-hit there. For the Marlins, it was the 15th one-hitter in franchise history.
All that separated the Marlins from the franchise’s fifth-ever no-hitter — albeit a combined effort had it occurred — was a Freddy Galvis single with one out in the first inning.
After that, Fernandez took over, retiring 17 consecutive Phillies before issuing a leadoff walk in the seventh. He then closed out his performance by whiffing Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Delmon Young.
“He is really impressive,” said Phillies starter Cole Hamels, who gave up only four hits over eight innings in taking the loss. “He is going to be a really great pitcher for a really long time. He has a power heater, power curveball, a pretty good curveball, and he’s not afraid. He’s going to put up some pretty big numbers in his career.”
Marlins catcher Miguel Olivo said Fernandez on Saturday reminded him of Ubaldo Jimenez with the Rockies in 2010, the way he had every pitch working. He also said the Phillies hitters kept telling him how impressed they were with him.
“They keep saying, ‘Man, he’s nasty,’ ” Olivo said.
Fernandez totaled only 82 pitches yet struck out nine Phillies before departing for a pinch-hitter in the eighth. The Marlins are capping Fernandez’s pitch count by design, given his age.
“He had done his job,” Marlins manager Mike Redmond said. “It really wasn’t a tough decision to take him out of there.”
Fernandez was coming off a pair of so-so outings in his two previous starts but was chomping at the bit to get back on the mound Saturday.
“I look forward to every start like it’s going to be the World Series,” Fernandez said. “It’s been a lot of work, fixing a lot of things, learning a lot of things.”
Fernandez received a little offensive help from his former teammate on the 2012 Jupiter Hammerheads when Ozuna led off the second inning by swinging at Hamels’ first pitch and landing it in the seats in left-center.
Ozuna’s family, who had flown up from the Dominican Republic to see him in person, stood and applauded in their seats.
In the third inning, Chris Valaika also homered for only the second time in his career. That gave the Marlins a 2-0 lead that held up to the end when relievers Mike Dunn and Steve Cishek closed out the victory by blanking the Phillies over the final two innings.
The Phillies probably aren’t looking to face Fernandez again anytime soon. In their two games against him, he’s given up three total hits over 13 combined innings while striking out 14 and walking just three.
“It’s amazing to get a win,” Fernandez said. “But, for me, it’s more important for the team than for me. I was just trying to throw strikes and get outs.”