Second baseman Jeff Baker didn’t start Sunday’s rubber match between the Miami Marlins and the Los Angeles Dodgers, but he certainly finished it. The veteran came in for Derek Dietrich in the seventh and ended the game with a walk-off double to win the game and the series 5-4.
When Yasiel Puig crashed into the right field fence and fell into the ground without possession of the ball, Marlins Park erupted into bedlam.
“We signed this guy because he’s got a lot of flexibility,” Marlins manager Mike Redmond said. “I’m not afraid to throw guys into any situation.”
Because closer Steve Cishek pitched in three straight days, he was unavailable to get the save on Sunday. A.J. Ramos, usually the setup man, was called on to close out the ninth and secure the 4-3 victory.
However the Dodgers would not allow that to be the storyline. Chone Figgins comes in as a leadoff pinch hitter and draws a walk. Outfielder Andre Either then hits a double to right-center field to score Figgins and tie the game.
Adeiny Hechavarria led off the bottom of the ninth with a single to right-center field and Donovan Solano bunts to move him into scoring position for Baker.
“Exactly how we drew it up,” Redmond said humorously.
Redmond also said third baseman Casey McGehee told him that Giancarlo Stanton would have a big day. Stanton hit two lead-taking home runs in the first and sixth inning and made McGehee seem psychic. He forgot to mention Christian Yelich, who hit his second home run of the season.
The friendly rivalry between Puig and fellow Cuban star Jose Fernandez continued on Sunday. Fernandez got the better of Puig this time with two strikeouts.
“We had a little talk yesterday,” Fernandez said. “He told me, ‘if I get you, I’m going to do something,’ and I said ‘alright, if I strike you out then I’m going to do something.’”
Fernandez continued to be spectacular in front of the Miami crowd, striking out ten Dodgers in seven innings. He now has three starts with 10 or more strikeouts and currently leads baseball with 65 strikeouts.
In the past few starts Fernandez has expressed frustration with Redmond taking the ball from him and not allowing him to complete the game. After throwing 114 pitches in seven innings, Fernandez was perfectly fine with the bullpen finishing the job.
“I tell ya I don’t know if I can be any prouder of the guy,” Redmond said. “For him to walk off the field and tell me ‘I gave you everything I had,’ that gave me chills.”
It’s always a fiesta when Jose Fernandez is on the mound at Marlins Park. Ten strikeouts and a walk-off Marlins victory in front of over 30,000 fans made Sunday a big bonanza.
The Fightin’ Fish improve to 16-15 and face the rival New York Mets for the final three-game series of the homestand before going west. Nathan Eovaldi (2-1. 2.58 ERA) takes the hill on Monday against Jonathan Niese (2-2. 2.20 ERA).