Jose Fernandez will never forget Tuesday night.
And it had nothing to do with his final pitching line.
Instead, Fernandez will cherish the moment he became the last pitcher to face David Ortiz in an All-Star Game won by the American League, 4-2.
“It’s hard to put it into words when you see him so close,” said Fernandez, who has been a fan of Ortiz since he was a seventh-grader playing baseball in Cuba. “It was an amazing experience for me.”
Fernandez had said before the game he’d likely throw very hittable fastballs to Ortiz to see if the retiring superstar would hit one out of Petco Park.
His first offering was clocked at only 80 mph.
“It was a fastball, not a changeup like [Ortiz] said,” Fernandez said. “I was throwing fastball, fastball, fastball. I threw him a breaking ball and he took it.”
That pitch got away from Fernandez and nearly hit Ortiz, who playfully opened his arms wide and pointed at him as they each shared a laugh from afar.
“I wanted to hit a home run during that at-bat,” Ortiz said. “My boy [Fernandez] threw me a changeup instead. I looked at him and I was like, ‘what happened?”
Ortiz walked up the line and, after being replaced by a pinch runner, proceeded to hug his American League teammates.
Fernandez tipped his cap from the mound while Ortiz received a standing ovation from the crowd of 42,386.
“I was nervous because I couldn’t believe I was actually pitching to him,” Fernandez said. “It was just great. He signed the jersey that I brought for him. His was the first baseball jersey that I bought when I came to the United States. It was a humbling experience seeing how time really flies by.”
Fernandez’s moment was another highlight in what was one of the most memorable All-Star Game experiences for the Marlins ever.
Fernandez, Marcell Ozuna, A.J. Ramos and Fernando Rodney represented the largest Marlins’ contingent at the All-Star Game since 2005 and matched a club record.
That followed Giancarlo Stanton’s spectacular and record-setting victory in Monday’s Home Run Derby when he spread 61 home run balls around Petco Park.
Fernandez gave up a run on two hits in 1 1/3 innings with the walk to Ortiz and a strikeout he picked up when he entered in relief of starter Johnny Cueto in the bottom of the second inning.
Cueto gave up home runs to a pair of Royals in that inning — Eric Hosmer and Salvador Perez.
Hosmer, a Cooper City (Fla.) native and graduate of nearby Plantation American Heritage School, was named the game’s Most Valuable Player after finishing 2 for 3 with that homer and two RBI.
“It’s a great feeling,” said Hosmer, who was part of a national championship team in high school at Heritage in 2008. “It’s extremely humbling. I never thought about becoming the MVP. I just wanted to soak up the whole experience, and it’s everything and more you could ever ask for.”
Ozuna went 1 for 2 and hit a single that drove in a run in the fourth inning in his first All-Star Game appearance. Ozuna, the first Marlins All-Star starter as an outfielder, became only the first Marlin to record an RBI in the game since Miguel Cabrera in 2005 and only the fourth ever.
“It was awesome for me being a first-time All-Star and I was ready to play and have fun,” Ozuna said. “I’m going to remember everything from being here. You don’t get to come here every year and be in this show.”
Ozuna came close to hitting a solo home run in the second inning. Ozuna ripped a curveball from Corey Kluber down the left field line that hit the fence just a few feet foul.
Three pitches later, Kluber struck Ozuna out looking on a 94 mph sinker that was the seventh pitch of the at-bat.
Ozuna’s single off the Blue Jays’ Aaron Sanchez cut the NL’s deficit to 4-2.
Ramos, who was also selected to his first All-Star Game, did not pitch.
Rodney struck out Cabrera and induced Michael Saunders to pop out during his relief appearance in the eighth inning. As he walked off the field, Rodney stopped and did his signature crossbow gesture for the fans of his previous ball club. Rodney was traded from the Padres to the Marlins on June 30.
“Being back in San Diego was important for me and something I won’t forget because these fans appreciated me,” Rodney said. “I gave them the [arrow] to show them that I love them a lot.”