That innings limit everyone’s made such a fuss about for Jose Fernandez?
You know, the one designed to protect his precious arm?
The way it’s been going, it might be irrelevant. The Marlins scraped out a 2- 1 win over the New York Mets on Tuesday, overcoming a stellar start by Noah Syndergaard, and thereby assuring a series win no matter the outcome of Wednesday’s finale at Citi Field.
It’s just that Fernandez didn’t play a deciding role in the victory. Fernandez went five innings on Tuesday before an excessively high pitch count prompted his removal. He went 5 2/3 innings in his first start of the season. If that rate continues, he’ll end up well short of the 180 innings leash most assume he’s been given.
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By no means was Tuesday’s marquee matchup against Syndergaard one of Fernandez’s finest performances. Somehow, though, he managed to hold his own even when he wasn’t at his best and Syndergaard was sensational.
In the microcosm of the first two innings, Syndergaard retired all six batters he faced, whiffing five of them. Fernandez, meanwhile, gave up a run on three hits and the same number of walks.
His pitch count after two innings was a yellow alert 51. He finished with “I was really proud of Jose today,” said Marlins manager Don Mattingly. “Those first two innings were really tough. He used up a lot of pitches. But then he settled down and really pitched, started hitting his spots and getting his outs, and got us to where we were in the game.”
Syndergaard struck out 12 in seven innings.
After those first two taxing innings, though, Fernandez found his rhythm and finished by retiring the final 10 Mets batters he faced, including the last four on whiffs. And as he was putting the Mets on lockdown, the Marlins found a way to put a run on the board off Syndergaard.
Derek Dietrich’s two -out single in the fourth made it a 1 -1 game.
In the seventh, Ichiro Suzuki beat out an infield hit to break his tie with Marlins hitting coach Barry Bonds on the all -time hits list. Suzuki’s hit was No. 2,936 for his career, which put him all alone at 34th on the list. Next up
is Frank Robinson, who is seven hits in front of him at No. 33.
But it was the eighth, after Syndergaard was gone, that the Marlins broke through. Dee Gordon culminated his Marlins record 16 pitch at bat against Jim Henderson with a leadoff single, then stole second.
“Obviously, that was a huge at bat,” Mattingly said. “He just kept fighting and fighting and fighting. When you do that, and end up with a hit — even if you don’t, it’s a great at bat. When you end up with a hit, it’s something that’s really uplifting to the club.”
The previous Marlins record was shared by Gregg Zaun and Mike Lowell, who had 15 pitch at bats, Zaun in 1998 and Lowell in 2001. Gordon fouled off 11 straight pitches during his at bat before blooping a single to left.
Ricky Gutierrez holds the modern day record with a 20- pitch at-bat.
After back- to- back walks to Christian Yelich and Giancarlo Stanton, Mattingly sent in Martin Prado to pinch- hit for Juston Bour against Mets lefty Jerry Blevins, and the move paid off when Prado drove in the go -ahead
run with a sacrifice fly.
That gave the Marlins a 2 -1 lead.
In his new late- inning role, David Phelps came on and delivered two scoreless innings, and A.J. Ramos closed out the win in the ninth to bring the Marlins back up .500 with a 3- 3 record.
The Marlins are in position to sweep the defending National League champs, who have now lost four straight, with a win on Wednesday.