Jose Fernandez was dancing when he arrived for work on Tuesday. The 21-year-old rookie entered the Marlins clubhouse at 4 p.m. wearing headphones and grooving to a beat only he could hear.
A couple of his bemused teammates looked up, smiled, and shook their heads. It was just Fernandez being Fernandez, the happiest-go-luckiest free spirit on the club.
On the mound, though, Fernandez is all business.
And Tuesday, it was business as usual for the Marlins’ young gun as he bolstered his Rookie of the Year candidacy by playing with the Kansas City Royals for seven innings.
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Fernandez didn’t factor in the decision — 1-0 victory by the Marlins in 10 innings as fellow rookie Christian Yelich drove in the deciding run with a one-out single off Kelvin Herrera.
But it was only fitting that Yelich should come up with the clutch hit, as it was only a bit more than a year ago that he and Fernandez showed up together for the Futures Game at Kaufmann Stadium
Both shined on that day, as well as Tuesday.
It was the seventh 1-0 victory in Marlins history requiring extra innings, and their second 1-0 victory of the road trip. They defeated Atlanta by the same score on Saturday.
It was a battle of one of the majors’ brightest young starts versus one of the league’s grizzled veterans, a 21-year-old facing a 36-year-old in Bruce Chen. Chen stood up to the challenge, delivering seven shutout innings in which he held the Marlins to three hits.
Only once during Chen’s stay on the mound were the Marlins able to advance a runner past first, and that came about in the seventh when Adeiny Hechavarria walked and stole second with two outs. The Marlins squandered their best scoring chance in the ninth, firing a blank after Logan Morrison took second on a sacrifice bunt. Donovan Solano struck out swinging on a ball in the dirt and Hechavarria grounded to short.
They did the same in the ninth.
But they finally broke through in the 10th after Jake Marisnick was hit by a pitch to start the inning, stole second, and scored on Yelich’s single to right.
The Royals had almost no success against Fernandez, failing to put a runner in scoring position until Billy Butler walked and advanced to second on an Alcides Escobar single with two outs in the seventh.
The Marlins received strong bullpen work from Mike Dunn, Chad Qualls and Steve Cishek. Cishek recorded his 25th save.
All told, the Royals managed only four hits off Marlins pitching while losing for only the sixth time — against 19 wins — since the All-Star break.
Fernandez added seven more innings to his season count as he approaches the 150-170 innings limit the organization has placed on him. His total now stands at 139 2/3.
But it was another brilliant performance that was brought to a stop after he threw 94 pitches.
Fernandez gave up a single in the first inning and another in the second before retiring 13 in a row. He finished the night with six strikeouts and lowered his ERA to 2.45, which ranks fifth in the National League.