We knew the streak had to end eventually, and when the lineup card for today's bout between the Royals and Marlins showed ace Jose Fernandez versus Dillon Gee, it seemed a fitting end for the Royals streak.
The Royals had won nine straight games before dropping last night's battle 1-0. Kansas City was arguably one of the hottest teams in baseball, channeling the luck of something called a 'rally mantis' to spark the clubhouse on a torrid August (now 16-6).
Yet that didn't scare a Marlins team that is turning around a rocky August in which they dropped eight of their first 12 games only to sweep the Pirates on the road last weekend. The termination of this Royals streak before it eclipsed double digits is a great feeling for Marlins nation, especially doing so on the back of their ace, Jose Fernandez.
A Record and an Injury Scare
Jose Fernandez - W, 7 IP, 6 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 9 K, 111 pitches
A three pitch strikeout of Alex Gordon in the top of the sixth inning carved out a place in Marlins' history for the young Fernandez. He became the single season record holder for strikeouts among all Marlin pitchers, a mark previously held by Ryan Dempster, who mowed down 209 hitters in 200.
The craziest thing about the feat? The innings differential.
Dempster struck-out his 209 in 226.1 innings.
Fernandez? How about 210 strikeouts in only 140 innings.
He'll continue to add to this record for the rest of the regular season. With just over 38 innings left before he hits his presumed 180 inning limit, it is feasible that Fernandez can get to 260-265 strikeouts this season. This is the first season Fernandez has eclipsed the 200 K mark, and it would be crazy to predict it being his last.
With another place in Marlins' history, a minor scare came in the form of what we now know was a leg cramp, as Fernandez took longer than usual to walk off the mound in the seventh after striking out Christian Colon for his ninth K of the game. At the time, I'd guess a majority of viewers as well as analysts thought this was in fact merely a cramp and not something serious, but nothing soothes the soul more than affirmation this notion, especially with a talent like Fernandez.
As far as the young Cuban's performance in this game, there really is not much to say outside of he was dominant as usual. J-Fer pushed his career home record to an absurd 27-2, with both of those losses coming this season at home (yes, he was 17-0 before this year in Miami). This was a great bounce back start for Jose, as he only lasted four innings last week in Cincinnati, his shortest outing of the season. In today's battle, he dazzled yet again. Both his walks came on 3-2 pitches, one in the first and one in the seventh. In between was only a minor blip with two runners on in the sixth before earning the single season strikeout record I touched upon two paragraphs ago. There was minimal hard contact, and his curveball accounted for eight of the nine strikeouts in the game, with a lone one coming on his mid 90s fastball, which possessed life and precision of its own. If you desire more evidence of his effectiveness, feel free to jump over to MLB.com and watch some of these hooks for yourself.
Yelich's HUGE Knock
Christian Yelich - 1-for-3, 2 RBI, BB, K
Marcell Ozuna - 0-for-3, RBI, Sac Fly
You can argue that manager Ned Yost's decision to let Dillon Gee face Christian Yelich for a third time with the bases loaded in the sixth was a bad move.
You can argue that right fielder Lorenzo Cain may have had a chance at catching Yelich's hit, or potential sac fly.
I'm going to argue that this was a matter of Yelich's bat, as he jumped on a first pitch hanger and drove it to right field for a two RBI single. Clutch hitting is something he has done time and time again this season in big spots. Not only were these the two runs the first of the game, but they would be the game's deciders, as Marcell Ozuna's sacrifice fly after Gee was removed was unneeded insurance for the Marlin's pen.
Otherwise in this game, the bats were not particularly successful as Dillon Gee, two times through the order, was very hard to solve, likely garnering another look out of the rotation as the Royals search for a solidified five starters down the stretch. With no extra base hits on the day today and only an Ozuna double yesterday, the Fish are lucky to be 1-1 in this series so far.
Tomorrow, we square off against the Royals again in a rubber match featuring Tom Koehler and Edinson Volquez. 7:10 pm ET First Pitch.
Do yourself a favor and take a look at one of the better catches you'll see all season from Hech. It came in the ninth, and all I have to say is WOW.
Also check out news on the Jeff Franceour acquisition right here.
Quick Bullpen Note...
Fernando Rodney did not particularly have a smooth ninth inning with a three run lead. A.J. Ramos has now fired three scoreless since his return from injury and Fernando Rodney did not look good tonight. He surrendered three baserunners, which would have been four if not for Hech's glove work and made a game that was a sure-fire W for the Fish a little more interesting.
A.J. Ramos, in my opinion, should be the closer on this team. The Rodney acquisition was to bolster the bullpen, not to find a new closer. I hope Mattingly is merely being cautious with Ramos post-injury, but from the looks of it, he's likely ready to re-assume the role. I do not trust Rodney much and would be surprised to find a Mariners, Padres, or Marlins fan that at one point has.
Hero of the Game: Jose Fernandez (+.389 WPA)
Zero of the Game: J.T. Realmuto (-.059 WPA)
Play of the Game: Christian Yelich's 2 RBI single to right in the sixth (+.189 WPA)