Throughout the course of Major League Baseball career, José Fernández was a phenomenal pitcher. He was also a pretty good hitter compared to his peers.
Over four seasons, Fernández held a .213 batting average. Fernández notched 29 career hits and seven for extra bases, including two home runs. On this day five years ago, Fernández played the role of hero with his bat as his pinch-hit two-run double in extra innings lifted the Miami Marlins to a 7-5 win over the Atlanta Braves.
On July 1, 2016, the teams were tied 5-5 after 11 innings. Against Atlanta’s Casey Kelly in the top of the 12th, a single by Miguel Rojas and a walk to J.T. Realmuto put a pair of runners on for the Marlins. After a flyout by Adeiny Hechavarría resulted in the second out of the inning, the Marlins were out of position players to hit for the pitcher.
Fernández got the call.
Set to start the next day, Fernández got an unexpected opportunity to swing the bat, but made the most of it. With the count even 1-1, Fernández got a fastball from Kelly and hammered it into the left-center field gap, scoring both Rojas and Realmuto.
Up 7-5, Dustin McGowan retired the Braves in order in the 12th to seal the victory.The Marlins raced to a 3-0 lead, thanks to a pair of first inning home runs. After Derek Dietrich led off the contest with a homer, Marcell Ozuna tripled the lead with a two-run blast.
Atlanta pushed two runs across in the second before taking the lead on Chase d’Arnaud’s two-run home run in the fifth. Miami regained the lead with two runs in the seventh on back-to-back RBI hits from Christian Yelich and Ozuna.
AJ Ramos came in to close the contest in the ninth, but Braves catcher Tyler Flowers homered on the second pitch from Ramos to tie the game. Ramos was able to pitch out of a jam later in the inning to get the game to extras. Nick Wittgren worked a scoreless 10th and 11th to pick up the win.
As for Fernandez, the two-run double would serve as the lone pinch hit of his career. It served as the game-winner and came on this day five years ago.