José Fernández was a special talent. His former teammates remembered him as a special person.
Fernández died in a boating accident in September 2016 at the age of 24. On this day five years ago, Fernández pitched an absolute gem in what would be the final appearance of his career in a 1-0 win over the Washington Nationals.
The Miami Marlins were looking to clinch the three-game series against Washington as the teams arrived at Marlins Park on Sept. 20, 2016. In what turned out to be an outstanding pitching effort from both starters, Fernandez was just a little bit better than Washington’s Tanner Roark.
Fernández wound up going eight innings, allowing just three hits and no walks while striking out 12. Only two runners for the Nationals reached scoring position throughout the night.
Fernández allowed a one-out double to Stephen Drew in the first inning, but induced a flyout from Bryce Harper and a pop out from Anthony Rendon. Those two outs would begin a stretch of 21 straight batters retired by Fernández.
The lone run of the night came in the bottom of the sixth inning as Giancarlo Stanton took Roark the other way for a solo home run. That would serve as the third and final hit of the night for the Marlins.
Fernández ran into some trouble in the top of the eighth. After striking out Clint Robinson, Fernández allowed consecutive singles to Wilson Ramos and Brian Goodwin. With two on and one out, Fernández struck out Danny Espinosa before getting Daniel Murphy to ground out to end the inning.
The night was over for Fernandez, but David Phelps would seal the deal for Miami. Phelps worked around a one-out infield single from Drew during a scoreless ninth to pick up the save.
Fernandez died five days later in an accident that shook the Marlins and the sports world. He finished with a 2.58 ERA and 38 wins in four years. His final victory and final appearance came on this day five years ago.