Jeff Baker’s walk-off hit lifts Miami Marlins 5-4 over Los Angeles Dodgers
05/05/2014 12:00 AM
07/31/2014 5:15 PM
A crowd of more than 30,000 — the third-largest of the season — turned out Sunday at Marlins Park to watch Jose Fernandez do his thing, which is to humiliate the opponent by twisting their hitters into human pretzels with his electric array of pitches.
Fernandez did not disappoint.
Nor did the rest of the Marlins, who dealt the Los Angeles Dodgers a 5-4 setback on Jeff Baker’s two-out, walk-off double off the wall in the ninth. As Yasiel Puig lay injured on the warning track after crashing into a padded wall post in his attempt to make the grab on Baker’s deep shot, the Marlins rushed onto the field to celebrate yet another win.
They are now 16-15, have won eight of their past nine games at home and have taken back-to-back series from two of the National League’s best: the Atlanta Braves and Dodgers. Their 14-5 home record is the best in the majors.
And they gave the home crowd plenty of reason to cheer Sunday.
Though he didn’t get the decision, Fernandez kept his unblemished record at Marlins Park intact by holding the Dodgers to three runs (two earned) and striking out 10 over seven innings. He threw a career-high 114 pitches.
When Fernandez returned to the dugout after completing the seventh, manager Mike Redmond said the pitcher told him: “I gave you everything I had.” And that, Redmond said, “gave me chills.”
Giancarlo Stanton clubbed his ninth and 10th home runs to take over the National League lead, one in front of the Dodgers’ Adrian Gonzalez, and in typical Stanton style, neither blast was a cheapie. The first was an opposite-field shot that cleared the 392-foot sign by about seven or eight rows. The second was a liner that crashed with a bang into The Clevelander sign in left.
“I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a baseball hit that hard in my life on a line,” Redmond said. “It was like a 54-degree wedge that you want to keep down in the wind.”
Shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria made a game-saving play in the ninth when — just after the Dodgers had tied the score off reliever A.J. Ramos and Stanton’s poor decision to dive after a ball he couldn’t possibly catch — he dove behind the bag at second to keep Hanley Ramirez’s ground ball from going into center for a go-ahead single and flipped to Baker covering second for the force.
Only the baserunner (Puig) was called safe by umpire Dale Scott. The Marlins challenged, and for the sixth time out of seven challenges this season they were successful. The call was overturned. Puig was ruled out. And Ramos and the Marlins got out of the inning without sustaining any more damage.
After Hechavarria singled to open the Marlins’ ninth and advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt and groundout, Baker stepped to the plate to face right-hander Jamey Wright with two outs. Baker ended an 0-for-25 drought, one that dated to July of last season, against right-handed pitchers when he singled off Dodgers reliever Chris Perez on Saturday.
When he faced Wright on Sunday, his average for the season stood at .128.
But he lofted an opposite-field fly ball to right that Puig tracked to the wall before leaping up to catch it. Puig barely missed, slamming into the wall as the ball caromed off and onto the warning track.
“With my luck right now, when I hit it, I thought he was going to make a nice play,” Baker said.
After spending a minute or so crumpled on the warning track, Puig was eventually able to walk off the field under his own power, but with his arm around one of the Dodgers’ trainers.
Fernandez was not without his own pain. Dee Gordon’s comebacker to the mound in the fifth struck the pitcher inside his left thigh, hobbling him for a bit.
Fernandez remained in the game, though, and completed two more innings.
He appeared to be in no pain when he, along with the other players in the Marlins’ dugout, came sprinting out to gang-rush Baker after his game-winning hit.
Fernandez doused him with two water bottles.
He’s having fun, along with everyone else on the Marlins.
“Man, we’re playing baseball, and it’s really exciting to go out there knowing if the other team scores six runs, we know we’re going to get six runs — or seven or eight,” Fernandez said.
“We’re in the game no matter how many runs [down]. It’s completely opposite from last year. This team is different.”
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