Miami Marlins

This time, Miami Marlins ace pitcher Jose Fernandez plays hero role with bat

Marlins manager Don Mattingly
Marlins manager Don Mattingly dsantiago@elnuevoherald.com

Jose Fernandez wanted to stay up past bedtime and play with the boys.

Good thing for the Marlins he did.

Fernandez drove in the go-ahead runs in a 7-5 Marlins victory with his pinch-hit double in the 12th inning on Friday night.

“It’s always been like a dream to play the outfield or pinch-hit like that,” Fernandez said. “But when it actually happened I was [like], ‘Oh my gosh. I shouldn’t be doing this.’ My heart really started going faster.”

Marlins manager Don Mattingly had exhausted his bench by the time he turned to Fernandez — the team’s best hitting pitcher — to grab a bat in the 12th.

Because he was scheduled to start on Saturday afternoon, Fernandez had been advised earlier Friday to return to the hotel and rest. But Fernandez wanted no part of that.

“As the game unfolded, he kind of wanted to stay,” Mattingly said.

Fernandez joined Dennis Cook as the only pitchers in Marlins history to deliver a game-winning pinch-hit.

It was the 11th pinch-hit by a Marlins pitcher. Six of those belong to Dontrelle Willis.

bump in the road

On the same day he received a vote of confidence from Mattingly, A.J. Ramos blew his first save of the season. Ramos on Friday gave up a game-tying home run in the ninth to Atlanta’s Tyler Flowers in a game the Marlins eventually won in 12 innings.

Ramos had reeled off 24 consecutive saves to start the season and hadn’t blown one since September of last year, a run of 33 in a row.

“You’ve got to continue to do the job,” Ramos said. “It never matters about what you’ve done. It matters what you’re going to continue to do, and that’s what I’m focusing on.”

Mattingly decided to stick with Ramos as his closer even after the Marlins acquired Fernando Rodney, who ranks fifth among active players with 253 career saves.

▪ Mattingly didn’t wait long to give his new bullpen alignment its first test run, using all four of his late-inning relievers on Friday.

Kyle Barraclough, David Phelps and Rodney worked scoreless innings in the sixth, seventh and eighth, respectively, before Ramos stumbled in the ninth.

But Mattingly said afterward it’s not something he wants to repeat often.

“You can’t really do that every day because you end up with nobody left,” he said. “We have to pay close attention to how we do that.”

Not to be lost in the Marlins’ bullpen effort on Friday was Nick Wittgren, who earned the victory by pitching two scoreless innings in the 10th and 11th.

“Wittgren was obviously really big for us,” Mattingly said.

COMING UP

▪ Sunday: Marlins LHP Adam Conley (4-5, 3.90 ERA) at Atlanta Braves RHP Matt Wisler (3-7, 4.14), 8 p.m., Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

▪ Monday: Marlins RHP Tom Koehler (6-7, 4.45) at New York Mets RHP Matt Harvey (4-10, 4.55), 4:10 p.m., Citi Field.

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