Jose Fernandez merged from the clubhouse carrying two bright orange jerseys both bearing his number 16. On the back of one was stitched the word, ABUELA. The back of the other read, MAMA. The Marlins’ young, star pitcher crept up behind his grandmother and mother, who stood near the wall behind home plate, to present his small gifts from the heart.
Reigning National League Rookie of the Year Jose Fernandez allowed a run and struck out nine over six innings. Fellow youngster Marcell Ozuna homered as part of a three-hit game. Casey McGehee, one of those character-rich veterans blended into the mix, ripped two doubles and knocked in four.
Hours before Opening Night, Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill made a statement bold enough to match the bright orange jerseys his players would wear in front of 37,116 -- a sellout crowd and the largest in Marlin Park history. Asked when he believed the club could compete for a postseason spot, Hill didn't hesitate with his answer. "First pitch. That's our goal," Hill said. "I actually like it when people don't pick us. I like flying under the radar because I know the 25 guys in that clubhouse believe in one another. I believe in the talent in that clubhouse and anything can happen when you have good pitching and you get timely hitting. That's our expectation."
If you watched the Marlins-Rockies game on Monday night, you likely found yourself excited about the amount of runs the Marlins' revamped lineup scored. Your spirits were buoyed by all the praise ESPN2 announcers Steve Levy and Eduardo Perez -- the former Marlins hitting coach -- were heaping on Marlins players. In particular, Perez noted twice that new Marlins cleanup hitter Casey McGehee was a "batting champion" in Japan.
Around the League
In what will certainly go down as one of the most unusual freak accident in Opening Day history, former AL MVP and current LA Angels hitting coach Don Baylor suffered a broken femur while catching a ceremonial first pitch from another former Angel AL MVP, Vladimir Guerrero.
Former Chicago White Sox closer and newly minted Arizona Diamondback Addison Reed was rudely welcomed to the National League by Buster Posey, who hit a 2-run jack in the top of the 9th inning of a 7-7 game on Monday night, to give the NL West rival Giants a lead they would not relinquish.
In moves that were no doubt shocking and infuriating to many fantasy baseball team owners, the Milwaukee Brewers and Chicago White Sox trotted out unexpected closers for Opening Day. With the departure of Addison Reed to Arizona, Chicago manager Robin Ventura opted to send veteran Matt Lindstrom out in the ninth inning, rather than preseason favorite Nate Jones. Similarly, in Milwaukee, Brewers manager Ron Roenicke surprised his own players with his decision to send Francisco "K-Rod" Rodriguez out instead of Jim Henderson, who took over the Brewers' closer role at the end of the 2013 season.
Philadelphia Phillies ace lefty starter Cliff Lee became just the third pitcher in MLB history to allow eight earned runs on Opening Day and still record a victory. He's also the first pitcher to do so since 1937, when the St. Louis Browns' Oral Hildebrand gave up 10 runs in a 15-10 victory over the White Sox.