While the Major League Baseball season officially began last week
in far away Australia, for Americans from New York to San Diego it
was Monday that marked the true Opening Day and for the Marlins, the
promise of another clean slate.
"We got it all tonight," said an elated Marlins coach Mike Redmond.
"Jose set the tone, I think he was a little nervous to start but he
settled in, made his pitches and after that first inning was locked
"It's fun to see him go out there and compete. It was an emotional
night for him having his family here and he handled it like a
"It shows you when the lights come on, that is when you see the most
from your ball club."
For much of the last three years the Marlins have been lost in the
gloom, with fresh starts quickly turning rotten.
Miami has finished bottom of the NL East in the last three seasons
and lost 100 games in last year's dismal campaign which began with
owner Jeffrey Loria unloading most of the team's big names for
bargain basement prospects.
The Marlins' offence was the worst in the NL in almost every
category and their payroll remains among the lowest in the Major
But from the rubble has emerged one of the leagues' best young
starting rotations, spearheaded by the sensational Fernandez.
The reigning NL rookie of the year, the 21-year-old Cuban was
rewarded for his brilliant debut with the coveted Opening Day
assignment against Colorado, making him the youngest Opening Day
starter since the Seattle Mariners' Felix Hernandez in 2007.
Fernandez was superb, tossing six innings, surrendering five hits
and one run, a towering homer from Carlos Gonzalez.
The right-hander, who struck out a team rookie record 187 batters
last season, continued to dazzle opposition hitters in fanning nine
The Marlins bats also got the season off to an explosive start,
pounding out 14 hits and 10 runs after only reaching double-digits
four times last season.
Marcell Ozuna opened the scoring with a solo home run in the bottom
of the third before the Marlins took control of the contest with a
five-run burst in the fifth.
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Ozuna sparked the big inning with a leadoff double then scored on an
Adeiny Hechavarria grounder to center field.
Giancarlo Stanton's soft grounder to first baseman Justin Morneau
scored Hechavarria before Casey McGehee cracked a three-run double
into the left field corner, handing Fernandez a 6-0 lead.
"That's where we struggled as a team last year getting that run
support," said Fernandez, unbeaten at Marlins Stadium last season
going 9-0 in 15 starts. "I didn't know how I was going to react to
"I knew I was ready for it, I knew my stuff was ready. I just didn't
know how I was going to react."
Much of the Marlins' optimism and marketing revolve around Fernandez
but fans remain skeptical.
While the game was proclaimed a sellout, thousands of seats remained
empty on a day that fills ball parks across the country.
"I hope so because this team is special," said Fernandez, when asked
if he thought the fans would be back on Tuesday. "We're going to
lose a couple but this team is going to fight.
"We want to go out there and fight every day and give ourselves a
chance to win the ball game. That's what we're here for.
"Everyone is working hard, everyone wants to impress. We want to
prove we are a team that can play baseball."
(Editing by Ian Ransom)
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