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Games of the Decade: July 2, 2015

José Fernández’s much-anticipated return from Tommy John surgery helped Marlins fans endure a frustrating season.

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San Francisco Giants v Miami Marlins Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Nothing compares with the rush of tuning in to live Marlins games. But as you are all aware, unfortunate circumstances have delayed the start of the 2020 regular season. Need help filling that void? Fish Stripes will be presenting full-length FOX Sports Florida broadcasts from the 2010-2019 Marlins seasons.

The “Games of the Decade” series is a collaborative process between the Fish Stripes staff and audience. Please continue recommending games that deserve to be rewatched!

Giants 4, Marlins 5—July 2, 2015

Starting Lineups

One year, one month, 16 days and five minor league rehab starts after undergoing Tommy John surgery, José Fernández was officially back. That gave FOX Sports Florida more than enough time to put together this hype video, which played at the start of the game broadcast:

Struggling teams—the Marlins entered the game with a 33-46 record—typically can’t draw fans for mid-week matinees against non-division opponents. Fernández was an exception to the rule, of course, especially under these circumstances.

Here are the largest announced crowds at Marlins Park during the 2015 season:

  • Apr. 6 vs. Braves (Opening Day)—36,969
  • Jun. 15 vs. Yankees—33,961
  • May 2 vs. Phillies—33,348
  • Jun. 16 vs. Yankees—33,083
  • Jul. 2 vs. Giants—32,598

They came to see a supremely talented and entertaining pitcher who had never suffered a losing decision in Little Havana. During 20 home starts prior to the injury, Fernández dominated batters—1.09 ERA, 0.84 WHIP, 153 K in 132 23 innings. And he did it while being among the youngest players in the majors.

The highly anticipated return got off to an inauspicious start. Gregor Blanco and Joe Panik led off the top of the first inning with back-to-back hits, eventually coming around to score to put the Giants ahead, 2-0.

Would that be enough of a cushion for Matt Cain? Nobody knew what to expect from the veteran right-hander. The three-time NL All-Star was also making his 2015 season debut after recovering from his own elbow issues.

Only one ball left the infield the first time through the Marlins lineup, but they got on the scoreboard in the bottom of the third. Adeiny Hechavarría knocked in Christian Yelich to cut the deficit in half.

San Francisco answered back in the fifth. Blanco led off with a solo home run into the upper deck in right. It was a rare example of Fernández falling behind in the count—he threw 68 of 89 total pitches for strikes on this day, a 76.4% rate that was the second-highest of his career to that point.

Fortunately, in the National League, a pitcher has the opportunity to help his own cause. That’s precisely what Fernández did in the bottom of the frame.

Credit to Rich Waltz and the FS Florida crew for brilliantly setting the scene and reacting to this moment:

Facing Marlins batters for the third time, Cain spiraled out of control. Yelich walk, Hechavarría single, Justin Bour three-run bomb. Miami in the lead, 5-3.

Carter Capps and AJ Ramos contained the Giants in relief after that. The Marlins swept a three-game series, which hadn’t been done since late April.

The sign says it all:

Full FOX Sports Florida game broadcast (with Rich Waltz, Tommy Hutton and Jessica Blaylock)

TL;DW (Too Long; Didn’t Watch)

Win Probability Chart
  • Gregor Blanco AKA that freaking guy was inexplicably productive against Marlins pitching, as Eno Sarris of The Athletic recently explored (subscription required).
  • Even in a win, we get treated to Dan Jennings’ bizarre managerial tactics. At no point during Hechavarría’s Marlins tenure was he a legitimately good offensive player, yet this was in the middle of a stretch during which Jennings consistently slotted him third in the batting order. Third!!! In the years before and since 2015, Hech has never made another start in that spot. Jennings also had Fernández bat for himself in the bottom of the sixth inning even though he was planning to go to the bullpen regardless.
  • Why wasn’t Ramos a 2015 NL All-Star selection? An easy ninth inning lowered his earned run average to 1.23, and he would finish the first half of the season at 1.5 fWAR, which ranked third among all qualified MLB relievers. Instead, the only Marlins All-Star representation that year would be Dee Gordon and an injured Giancarlo Stanton.
  • Playing third base, Miguel Rojas went 3-for-4. Those were the first hits of his Marlins career after being recalled from Triple-A New Orleans the previous week. Rojas would never get sent down to the minors again and he’s now 28th on the Marlins all-time hits list.
  • No Marlins pitcher has blasted a home run since José Fernández. There is a possibility that we will never see one again as momentum builds towards implementing a universal designated hitter rule.

The “Games of the Decade” series is also available as a YouTube playlist (games listed there in chronological order)