It was a bone-chilling 38 degrees when Jose Fernandez took the mound at Target Field on Tuesday, and a still nippy 42 by the time Ricky Nolasco got there.
Nolasco got the job done, winning the nightcap of a split doubleheader behind a season-high 16-hit onslaught by the Marlins in their 8-5 victory over the Minnesota Twins. But, for the second straight outing, Fernandez took his lumps in a 4-3 Twins win in the first game.
Night. Day. It all became quite confusing after a wintry storm brought snow to Minneapolis and caused the postponement of Monday's game.
Nolasco was scheduled to go in the first game, but was notified by phone at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday -- only 2 1/2 hours before game time -- that there had been a change of plans. Fernandez would go in the first games while Nolasco would have to wait for the later game.
Manager Mike Redmond said the organization wanted the inexperienced Fernandez, 20, pitching during the warmer daylight hours and the more seasoned Nolasco pitching at night when it was expected to be even colder.
"When we saw the sun shining (Tuesday morning following snowfall overnight), it just made sense to push Fernandez up to start game one, a little bit warmer," Redmond said. "Ricky's a little bit more accustomed to throwing in colder temperatures."
Multiple sources said the decision was made by higher-ups in the organization, however, and did not sit well with Redmond, pitching coach Chuck Hernandez and Nolasco, who were all caught off guard by the announcement.
For doubleheaders, it is normal protocol to allow the pitcher with the most seniority to have his choice of games. Nolasco is the team's all-time wins leader and its opening day starter. Fernandez had made only three big-league starts going in to Tuesday. Furthermore, Nolasco's name was on the lineup card Tuesday morning when players began showing up at the ballpark.
"Not a smart move," said a member of the Marlins' uniformed contingent. "It's a slap in the face to Ricky."
After notching his first win of the season, it was clear Nolasco was biting his tongue.
"I'm not going to talk about that situation," Nolasco said following only the Marlins' fifth win of the season. "Still go to go out there and pitch, happy or not, whatever the situation is. You got to go out there and do my job. It wasn't fun, but just grinded it out."
Asked if he was unhappy about the late change, Nolasco replied: "No comment."
But Nolasco, who brought the second-lowest run support figure in the majors into what marked his 200th career pitching appearance with the Marlins, finally received some help from the lineup.
The Marlins raced out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning against Mike Pelfrey and continued adding on runs in what was their best offensive performance of the season. Rob Brantly drove in four runs with three hits, including a pair of doubles off the wall, while Giancarlo Stanton drove in a pair.
"Anytime a team gives you a four-run lead early in the game, it can change the way you pitch," Nolasco said.
Fernandez wasn't as blessed as Nolasco was.
Twins rookie Oswaldo Arcia tagged his first major league home run off Fernandez -- a 3-run shot in the fourth inning -- as the Twins won the first game of a split, day-night doubleheader, 4-3.
Fernandez was just as oblivious to change in plans. He said he received a call at 9:30 a.m. notifying him of the change.
Fernandez was not sharp Tuesday on what was the fifth-coldest game-time temperature in Marlins history.
Brian Dozier ripped Fernandez's second pitch if the game into the gap for a triple and ended up scoring on Justin Morneau's ground ball out.
Joe Mahoney gave the Marlins a 2-1 lead with his two-run single off Twins starter Kevin Correia in the fourth.
But the Twins then went on the attack in their half of the fourth. Chris Parmelee reached on a first-pitch single, Trevor Plouffe followed with another first-pitch single and Arcia connected crushed a first-pitch change up over the wall in right.
"It was three pitches, three runs -- boom-boom-boom," Fernandez said. "I looked back, 4-2 we're down."
Fernandez was lifted after the fifth.
"We just had a chance to win and I just kind of blew it up," Fernandez said. "It doesn't feel good. I like to give the team a shot to win. It was pretty tough today."
The Marlins loaded the bases with one out in the eighth after both Placido Polanco and Giancarlo Stanton were struck by pitches. But they managed only one run. Greg Dobbs ripped a line shot up the middle that appeared headed to center for a two-run single. Instead, pitcher Jared Burton reached up just in time. The ball struck his glove, caromed to short, and Dobbs was thrown out at first.