Hero of the Game: Jose Fernandez (0.287 WPA)
Goat of the Game: Justin Ruggiano (-0.047 WPA)
Play of the Game: In terms of impact, Giancarlo Stanton's two-run home run in the fifth inning (+0.110 WPA). In terms of talking points, Jose Fernandez's solo home run in the sixth inning (+0.042 WPA and plenty of arguing)
Well, let's get to the entire game first before we talk about Mr. Jose Fernandez.
The Miami Marlins came away with a comfortable 5-2 win over the Atlanta Braves, snapping the team's four-game losing streak. Of course, it was not all fun and games in Miami tonight. Jose Fernandez had a solid start in shutting down the Braves, but he did not pitch at his best. He allowed only one run on five hits in seven innings pitched, but one of those hits was a well-hit home run by Evan Gattis (that guy again?), so it was not all happy-go-lucky on the mound. Fernandez walked three batters and struck out only five, and given how much he has done in recent weeks, that seems like a struggle of a start for him.
But the Marlins' offense backed him up for a change. Giancarlo Stanton had a nice night at the plate, and Christian Yelich was the recipient of some easy runs scored. Yelich singled and advanced to second base on an error by Elliot Johnson, and Stanton blooped a broken-bat single to right field to drive in the first run of the game. A few innings later, in the fifth inning, Stanton did a little better following Yelich reaching on a fielder's choice. Stanton launched a mammoth home run to the black wall in dead center field, a towering shot that left center fielder Jordan Schafer puzzled then dejected on its way out. The Fish ended up taking a 4-0 lead.
That lead was cut to 4-1 by Gattis, but in the sixth, things got a little heated. Jose Fernandez came to the plate with the bases empty and two outs, and the rookie, on his last night of the season, took advantage of an inside fastball and drilled it into the Clevelander for his first career home run. The problem was that Fernandez stood and watched a bit longer than he should have at the plate and took a relatively slow trot around the bases. When he reached third, third baseman Chris Johnson was apparently jawing at Fernandez, and Fernandez spit towards third base after passing Johnson. At home plate, Brian McCann had some words for Fernandez, and at that point Johnson charged in from third base, stood behind his teammates, and the benches came out to prevent or bring about a scuffle. Nothing came to, but Johnson was visibly hot and separated by Placido Polanco among others.
It was a benches-clearing scrum that ultimately led to nothing, but it is the most talked about part of the best game of the Marlins' season to date. Fernandez was strong, the bullpen held its own, and the Marlins comfortably won a game that involved one of the most interesting moments in the Marlins' season. Combine that with a Stanton homer and you've got the recipe for a fun night with the Fish.