José Fernández’s life and baseball career ended far too soon. Over his four years with the Miami Marlins however, Fernández brought many great memories.
One of those came on this day five years. In a 3-0 win over the Kansas City Royals, Fernández broke Ryan Dempster’s single-season club record for strikeouts.
Fernández had 204 strikeouts for the season as he arrived at Marlins Park on Aug. 24, 2016. Fernández needed five to tie Dempster’s team record of 209 strikeouts set in 2000. The 23-year-old All-Star needed six innings to break it.
Fernández ended up working seven shutout innings, allowing six hits and two walks while striking out nine. Fernández worked out of several jams throughout the night and managed to keep the Royals scoreless.
After striking out Paulo Orlando and Christian Colón to start the fifth inning, Fernández had tied Dempster’s club record. The record-breaker would come at an opportune time in the sixth.
In what was still a scoreless game, Fernández allowed singles to Eric Hosmer and Salvador Pérez to open the top of the sixth. As he had all night, Fernández bounced back. Facing Alex Gordon, Fernández needed just three pitches to stand alone, striking Gordon out on an 85-mile-per-hour curveball.
With two on and just one out, Fernández got ahead of Alcides Escobar 0-for-2 before inducing an inning-ending double play. Following his superb pitching effort, it was Fernández who jump-started the offense in the bottom of the sixth.
Miguel Rojas grounded out to start the inning, but Fernández’s line drive to center field began a string of four straight Miami singles. Following hits from Dee Strange-Gordon and Martin Prado, Fernández came to score the game’s first run on a two-run single from Christian Yelich. A Marcell Ozuna sacrifice fly three pitches later gave the Marlins a 3-0 lead.
Now in line to earn the win, Fernández worked around a one-out walk in the seventh to strike out the side and conclude his night. AJ Ramos worked a perfect eighth for Miami before Fernando Rodney worked out of a bases-loaded jam to earn the save.
Fernández would go on to finish the season with 253 strikeouts, besting Dempster’s mark by 44. No Miami pitcher has managed to reach 200 strikeouts in a season since. Fernandez’s record-breaking performance came on this day five years ago.