Less than 24 hours after Jose Fernandez beat and riled the first-place Atlanta Braves in his final start of the season, the Marlins began their final 18-game stretch Thursday afternoon looking like a team without its best player around to help.
Atlanta took advantage of six walks and pounded rookie left-hander Brian Flynn — who was making just his second start — en route to a 6-1 victory played in front of an announced crowd of 15,274 at Marlins Park.
Fernandez, meanwhile, watched from the bench. After closing out one of the best rookie campaigns by a pitcher in major-league history — and also angering the Braves and his own manager for “pimping” his first major-league home run — Fernandez told Marlins.com on Thursday morning he’s going to keep being who he is.
“That’s what got me here,” Fernandez said of playing fiery. “It was a little mistake [Wednesday]. I talked to some of the players I needed to apologize to, [catcher Brian] McCann and [Mike] Minor. “I think everything is good. I’m going to keep doing what I do, and hopefully, I get better.”
Marlins manager Mike Redmond, who said Fernandez “ruined the night” with his antics Wednesday, switched gears a bit Thursday, saying it’s time to move on. Redmond said the focus should be on what Fernandez did all season and his bid to earn National League Rookie of the Year honors.
“He’s a young kid, and he’s going to be one of the top pitchers in this league for a long time. You want your pitchers and players to be judged for the way they pitch and the way they compete, not the theatrics,” Redmond said.
“Unfortunately for him, what gets overshadowed by [Wednesday] night is the year that he’s had and how dominant he’s really gone out there and pitched. We should be talking about him for Rookie of the Year.”
Redmond took some criticism from the public and a few MLB analysts for being too harsh on Fernandez on Wednesday.
“Everybody has their opinion, and if you’re only watching two clips of that game, then I can see how they can say whatever they want,” Redmond said. “But if you’re around here and this clubhouse every single day — I think the important thing is we’re a young team, 30 games under, we’re teaching guys to respect the game and play the game the right way. That’s a teaching moment, learning moment for Jose.”
Closer Steve Cishek called Fernandez the type of competitor and teammate “you want to play around.”
“Every single game he’s gone out there he’s been fiery, yelling at himself, whatever it is to get himself going,” Cishek said. “He’s fun to watch. He’s a good kid. But he let one get away from him, got a little too excited. You see a lot of young guys lose it out there.
“Everyone is not going to be puppy dogs out there, and he has that little extra gear. I guarantee you he’ll learn from this and it will be forgotten about.”
The Braves (88-58) had to be happier than they were Wednesday — primarily because Fernandez wasn’t around to shut them down.
Atlanta took advantage of three consecutive walks by Flynn to open the third inning and scored four runs on a pair of two-run doubles by Evan Gattis and Chris Johnson. Freddie Freeman then added to Atlanta’s lead with a two-out, two-run home run to center an inning later.