The guy who caught his perfect sixth inning of work was last year’s National League MVP.
The last guy he struck out might be this year’s American League MVP.
Count Giants catcher Buster Posey and Orioles first baseman Chris Davis as two guys at the forefront utterly impressed by 20-year-old Marlins rookie Jose Fernandez and his history-making performance at Tuesday night’s All-Star Game.
“He’s really impressive — especially for the situation,’’ said Posey, who caught Fernandez and watched him join Bob Feller and Dwight Gooden as the only pitchers in the All-Star Game’s history to record two strikeouts in an outing before their 21st birthday. “You figured there would be a lot of nerves and excitement. But he showed great poise and obviously the stuff speaks for itself.’’
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Fernandez whiffed former American League MVP Dustin Pedroia looking and then got Davis, the current major-league home run leader, to chase a nasty curveball in the dirt.
In between, he threw three consecutive heaters at Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera that registered at 98 mph. He got the former Marlin to pop out to first base.
“He was dirty, man,’’ Davis said. “He threw me that curveball to start off the at-bat. It looked like a heater coming in, and then it just disappeared. Then he finished me off with it.
“Knowing where he came from and where he’s at, he’s got a very high ceiling. He’s a guy I’m glad I don’t have to see on a regular basis.’’
Fernandez called the experience “neat, very nice.’’
“I’m proud of how I went out there and didn’t try to overdo anything,’’ he said moments after the American League capped its first shutout of the National League since 1990. “I think adrenaline just carried me a little. Miguel Cabrera is the best hitter in the game. It was incredible to face those guys and get them out.’’
More than 45,000 fans at a sold-out Citi Field got to enjoy Fernandez’s performance without interruption. But those watching on TV were often pulled away by an interview Fox was conducting with Pirates closer Jason Grilli in the National League dugout at the same time.
Marlins radio broadcaster Glenn Geffner echoed the frustration of many Marlins fans afterward taking to Twitter to say: “The Grilli interview was obviously set up in advance. Still, Fox could have come back in the next half inning shown Jose and acknowledged that we just saw something special with a three-sentence summary of Jose’s incredible story.’’
Fernandez, of course, was unaware of what was happening on TV. After the game, his cellphone battery was dead. So he had no idea Marlins fans were upset or that his teammates — who also took to Twitter — were proud of his effort.
“I’m sure I missed a lot,’’ Fernandez said. “But I can’t wait to get back home and see my teammates, see my family. My teammates said they were going to watch me. This is for the Marlins, for the city of Miami.’’
While Fernandez was the only current Marlin to play in this year’s All-Star Game, former reliever Edward Mujica turned out to be the only Marlin among the dozen traded from last year’s team to reach the Midsummer Classic.
Considering the Marlins shipped off eight former All-Stars — Mujica not among them — it was definitely a bit of surprise the 29-year-old former middle reliever was the former Marlin who made it.
Mujica, who replaced Cardinals teammate Adam Wainwright on the All-Star team, certainly did his part to earn it. He took over the Cardinals closer role early in the season and converted 26 of his 28 save opportunities, posting a 2.20 ERA, 0.73 WHIP, and only two walks in his 41 innings pitched.
“When I got selected, all the Marlins guys texted me to congratulate me — [Steve] Cishek, [Ryan] Webb, [Giancarlo] Stanton, Ricky [Nolasco],’’ said Mujica, who was one of a handful of players for the NL who didn’t get into the game. “They still love me. I miss those guys. They’re good guys. But I’m happy to be in St. Louis. We made the playoffs last year and now we’re in first place. It’s the kind of team we thought we would have in Miami.’’