Jose Fernandez sharp as Marlins thump Rockies on Opening Day
MIAMI (AP) — Coming in from the bullpen to make his first opening day start, Jose Fernandez blew a kiss to his family in the stands. Nine innings later, he was hugging all of his teammates.
The Miami Marlins’ opener became a lovefest Monday night, when Fernandez looked just as good as he did last year, and the batting order looked much improved.
Fernandez struck out nine and allowed one run in six innings, and Marlins newcomer Casey McGehee drove in four runs with two doubles to help beat the Colorado Rockies 10-1.
The sellout crowd of 37,116 was the largest for the attendance-challenged Marlins since their new ballpark opened two years ago. Will many of the fans be back to see a team that lost 100 games last year?
"I hope so, because this team is special," Fernandez said. "I see that. Not because we scored 10 runs, but because this team is going to fight."
The 21-year-old Fernandez earned the victory while becoming the youngest NL opening day starter since Dwight Gooden in 1986, according to STATS. And he picked up where he left off last season, when he went 12-6 and was voted NL Rookie of the Year.
"I didn’t know how I was going to react to opening day," he said. "But it came out great."
The right-hander’s strikeout total matched Josh Beckett’s team record for an opener. Fernandez threw 73 strikes and only 21 balls to 23 batters.
The crowd included Fernandez’s grandmother Olga, who lives in Cuba. She saw him pitch for the first time since he left that country at age 15.
Her grandson improved to 10-0 in 16 career starts at Marlins Park with an ERA of 1.21.
"She told me, `Good pitching. You’ve got to throw a lot more strikes, though,’" Fernandez said.
He threw plenty, given his improved run support. The Marlins, who finished last in the majors in most offensive categories last year, totaled 14 hits while scoring in double figures, something they did only four times in 2013.
Marcell Ozuna homered, doubled, singled and scored twice. Giancarlo Stanton had an RBI infield single and a run-scoring double. Adeiny Hechavarria singled three times and drove in a run.
The Rockies, who began their first season since 1996 without retired first baseman Todd Helton, could have used his pop. His replacement, Justin Morneau, went 1 for 4. Michael Cuddyer, who won the NL batting title in 2013, went 2 for 4.
Carlos Gonzalez homered for the Rockies in the sixth, but by then they trailed 6-0. Even he tipped his cap to Fernandez.
"When a guy like that is pitching, you expect that kind of game," Gonzalez said. "He’s one of the best."
Jorge De La Rosa (0-1) allowed five runs in 4 1-3 innings in his first opening day start.
The ballpark sound system malfunctioned during the national anthem, and Dan Marino’s ceremonial first pitch was wide of the plate. But thereafter the boisterous crowd — a rarity at Marlins Park since it opened — had plenty to cheer about.
"The fans were into it," Marlins manager Mike Redmond said. "Last year this didn’t happen a whole lot, but in the ninth I actually got to look around and take a breather from the game, and that was fun. The energy was off the charts."
The hit parade was a big change from a team that totaled one run in its first three games a year ago. The victory put Miami above .500 for the first time since June 2012.
NOTES: Marlins INF Rafael Furcal, who began the season on the DL with a strained left hamstring, said he expects to play five or six games on a rehabilitation assignment. He hopes to be activated around April 14. … Rockies manager Walt Weiss had two hits and two RBIs when he started at SS in the Marlins’ first game 21 years ago. … The Marlins’ bid for back to back no-hitters ended with the second batter, when Cuddyer singled. Henderson Alvarez pitched a no-hitter for Miami on the final day of last season. … Miami’s Nathan Eovaldi is scheduled to start against Brett Anderson on Tuesday.