In the final start of his rookie season, Miami Marlins’ starter Jose Fernandez once again got the job done on a night in which he didn’t have his best stuff. Despite not being at the top of his game, Fernandez was able to pick up his 12th win going seven solid innings allowing just one run on five hits while walking three and striking out five as the Marlins topped the first place Atlanta Braves 5-2.
Fernandez will finish the season 12-6, outstanding considering he plays for a team with an overall record of 54-90. Fernandez also lowered his ERA to 2.19 with Wednesday’s effort keeping him in second place in the National League in that statistic. But to sour his final start in what has been an unbelievable year for Fernandez, the 21-year-old Cuban native had his first run in with controversy on the big league level.
It all began with Miami leading 4-0 in the top of the sixth inning. On a 97-MPH fastball, Braves’ left fielder Evan Gattis hammered a Fernandez pitch over the left field wall and seemed to give Fernandez a bit of a head nod. Fernandez appeared to respond with a look which led to Atlanta third baseman Chris Johnson and Fernandez having words two batters later.
In the bottom half of the inning, Fernandez answered Gattis’ home run with the first career long-ball of his own, but rather than running the bases immediately, Fernandez took time to stand and admire his shot. As Fernandez rounded third base, he and Johnson looked to once again have words and as he touched home plate, Atlanta catcher Brian McCann lectured Fernandez on his behavior which led to both dugouts clearing.
Nothing else transpired throughout the night and after the game, Fernandez claimed to be embarrassed and apologized for his actions not only to the media, but to the Braves involved in the incidents that took place.
Wednesday’s game said a lot about Fernandez as he admitted to letting the emotions get the best of him. Wednesday showed that Fernandez can have an outstanding night even without his best stuff, but immaturity can ruin what was otherwise a spectacular night. It also showed that Fernandez despite pitching with emotion on a nightly basis, is mature enough to take responsibility for his actions. McCann seemed to believe after the game that Fernandez was apologetic immediately after taking a moment to admire his first career homer.
At just 21 years old, Fernandez has a lot of baseball left in his career and hopefully for the Marlins, many years in South Florida. Fernandez is too young to start making enemies and fortunately for both clubs, nothing further escalated.
Fernandez has always been a pitcher that wears his emotions on his sleeve, but has the ability to bounce back after a mistake on the mound, something unique for a 21-year-old. Fernandez must learn to temper his behavior when things don’t go his way the way that he does with his pitching and unfortunately, that did not happen in Wednesday’s victory.
Fernandez clearly accepted responsibility for his actions following Wednesday’s win and hopefully, no fuel is thrown on this fire. As Miami manager Mike Redmond pointed out, Wednesday’s actions in showing up the Braves was even more foolish considering that Atlanta is headed for the postseason while the Marlins are 36 games below .500. The series over the last two years has been dominated by the Braves as well.
Fernandez will see the Atlanta Braves a lot over the next several years and hopefully, Wednesday’s display will be little more than a learning experience. With the strong possibility of a 2013 National League Rookie of the Year award on its way for Fernandez, the 21-year-old needs to stick to letting his live fastball and nasty slider do most of his talking. On the field, Fernandez was once again stellar on Wednesday, but instead of a night of celebration, it was one of controversy.