Despite the absence of Giancarlo Stanton and Justin Ruggiano, the Miami Marlins offense exploded for 5 hits and 2 runs on Saturday as the team won its second game of the season.
Early on, the story was young pitching phenom Jose Fernandez. Fernandez dazzled in his debut last week, but ultimately did not receive a win after the bullpen blew the game in the bottom of the ninth inning. Much of the same was true on Saturday, with the exception being that the Marlins offense powered its way to a win for the team, even if it doesn’t appear on Fernandez’s record.
Fernandez, who needs a catchy nickname (JoFer? Jose K?), tossed 6 innings of 2-hit ball before being pulled after 85 pitches. He struck out 5 and walked 2 while lowering his ERA to 0.82 in the process. His curveball looked just as devastating as it did in his first start, and on his last pitch of the game he struck out Ryan Howard on a 3-2 curve with the tying run on second. According to ESPN Stats and Info, he was he first pitcher 20 years old or younger to allow 1 run or fewer and 3 hits or fewer in his first two starts since Rudy May did so with the 1965 Angels.
The first offensive explosion for the Marlins came in the bottom of the fifth, when Adeiny Hechavarria hit the Marlins’ first triple of the season, ultimately ending his quest to go hitless on the homestand. In a feat of Ruthian capabilities, Jose Fernandez slapped a Cole Hamels fastball out of the infield for an RBI single to give himself both the lead and more hits (one) than Austin Kearns has all season (zero).
The lead would disappear in the 7th inning, as the Marlins bullpen predictably eradicated any positive work the starting pitching had done. This time, the culprit was A.J. Ramos, who simply could not wait to give up a hit to Dom Brown as soon as he was put in the game. Ramos had almost gotten out of the inning when Donovan Solano decided he’d like to take part in ruining the pitching performance. Instead of turning a double play, Solano tried to give the ball to one of the fans in the bleachers as a souvenir, allowing Brown to score.
The Marlins bats really perked up in the bottom of the ninth, with the game tied at 1. Placido Polanco drew a leadoff walk, setting the table for cleanup hitter Greg Dobbs, leading the team with a whopping 1 home run and 4 RBI. Dobbs was able to muscle a hit past the glove of first baseman Kevin Frandsen for his first hit of the homestand, sending Polanco to third. Then, slugger Chris Coghlan came to the plate sporting a cool .091 batting average. In characteristic fashion, Coghlan was unable to get the ball past the infield grass. Whereas usually this means an out for him, second baseman Chase Utley charged the ball and couldn’t field it cleanly, allowing Polanco to score and the Marlins to walk off with the victory.
Up next: The Marlins will try to score a season-high 3 runs at home on Sunday as Kevin Slowey takes the mound against Roy Halladay.