Marlins rookie Jose Fernandez made his final start of the 2013 season on Wednesday night at Marlins Park against the Braves. He went out with a bang.
Pumping easy high-90s fastballs and wicked off-speed stuff, the 21-year-old right-hander held first-place Atlanta to to one run on five hits over seven innings while striking out five in what wound up as a 5-2 victory for Miami. Fernandez also contributed offensively, slapping a fourth-inning single to center field and cranking his first career home run — a solo shot — in the sixth inning. He watched the homer fly, flipped his bat and then appeared to spit near the third base bag, prompting a benches-clearing reaction from the Braves. No punches were thrown and no ejections were handed out. Here’s the replay:
Fernandez — the likely Rookie of the Year in the National League — will finish his first big league season with a 2.19 ERA, 0.98 WHIP and 187 strikeouts in 172 2/3 innings. As noted by Joel Sherman of the New York Post, that 2.19 ERA is the best mark from a starter in his age-20 season since Doc Gooden (1.53) in 1985.
As expected, Major League Baseball’s league-wide home run record, set in 2000, was tied and surpassed on Tuesday night, both by players named Alex who play for AL Central teams.
Tigers outfielder Alex Presley tied the record at 5,693, per MLB.com’s David Adler, with a solo home run in the bottom of the fifth inning against Athletics starter Daniel Gossett. Royals outfielder Alex Gordon broke the record roughly 12 minutes later with a solo home run to lead off the top of the eighth inning against Blue Jays reliever Ryan Tepera.
Major League Baseball saw the record nearly broken last year, when 5,610 home runs were hit. The only other season above 5,500 was 1999 at 5,528.
Earlier this month, Yankees starter CC Sabathia jawed at the Red Sox after Eduardo Nunez laid down a bunt. Sabathia fielded it fine, but threw the ball away for an error. After the game, he called Nunez’s bunt “weak” and said the Red Sox should “swing the bat.” Sabathia, of course, is not that limber these days. Along with being 37 years old, the lefty has also battled knee and hamstring issues this season.
The Twins apparently didn’t hear what Sabathia had to say about bunting. After Brian Dozier singled off of Sabathia to lead off the top of the first inning on Tuesday, Joe Mauer laid down a bunt on the third base side and reached safely. Jorge Polanco then laid down a bunt of his own, also on the third base side, and was initially ruled out, but after replay review was ruled safe to load the bases with no outs.
Fortunately for Sabathia, he was able to limit the damage, getting Eduardo Escobar to ground into a run-scoring 6-4-3 double play and inducing an inning-ending ground out from Byron Buxton. It’ll be interesting, though, to see if the Twins continue to bunt against Sabathia throughout the night.