The Miami Marlins had an ugly series versus the San Diego Padres over the weekend, during which they sent their three best pitchers to the mound and were thoroughly thumped by a supposedly poor Padres offense. Part of the problem was Jose Fernandez, who suffered through a bad start in which he gave up two home runs and six runs in five innings of work.
One of the reasons (if not the only one) for Fernandez's struggles is that he had a problem with his health prior to the game. Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald reports that Fernandez was vomiting before his Friday start.
Fernandez said he felt bad throwing his warmup pitches in the bullpen after having his normal pre-game steak and threw up in a dugout garbage can during the first inning when the Marlins were at the plate.
"It's not an excuse," said Fernandez, who gave up six runs, including a pair of homers, in Friday's 10-1 loss. "It probably was something I ate, but I don't want it to be related with (how I pitched). In the first inning I was feeling kind of shaky. But by the second and third, I was feeling, all right, back at it again."
Fernandez apparently has a nice steak dinner prior to his starts and then heads on out, but began feeling symptoms before the game and even felt a bit woozy during his first inning on the mound. But as he tells it, the illness was not affecting him after the first inning.
Based on the small history he gave here, it is difficult to tell if it was truly food poisoning from his steak. Presuming his meal came a couple of hours prior to his start, the most likely candidate to cause food poisoning is Staphylococcus aureus. The bug itself is not the cause of the symptoms, but rather it is the pre-made toxin that is left on the food. Commonly, S. aureus food poisoning is associated with starchy products like bread or sauces like mayonnaise. It's less associated with meat, which is more commonly caused by things like E. coli. If anything, Fernandez may have caught it from bad bread or bad salad dressing rather than poor-quality steak.
Nevertheless, it is difficult to believe that Fernandez did not suffer some ill effects after the first inning vomiting. S. aureus food poisoning usually lasts about six hours before the symptoms subside. If that is indeed the case, he should have been feeling nauseous for a good portion of his start, even if he was not vomiting outright after the first. It is no excuse for a poor start, but it does provide reasoning and makes it likely that he does not have a naturally-recurring performance like this again. That should be good news for Marlins fans who saw his velocity dip a bit in that game.