Only one week remained in the season as the Miami Marlins took the field for the first time following the tragic death of star pitcher José Fernández.
With his No. 16 painted on the field, the Marlins played with heavy hearts on this day five years ago. In an emotional contest, Dee Gordon set the tone in a 7-3 victory over the New York Mets at Marlins Park.
With every Miami player wearing No. 16 with Fernandez’s last name across the top, Gordon led off for the Marlins in the bottom of the first on Sept. 26, 2016. A left-handed batter, Gordon had yet to homer in 74 games during the season.
For the first pitch, Gordon lined up in the right-handed batter’s box and imitated Fernandez’s batting stance. For the second pitch, he switched back to the left side and took Ball 2. On the third pitch and Gordon’s first swing against Bartolo Colón, the Miami second baseman hammered one over the right field wall for his first home run of the season.
Tears streamed down Gordon’s eyes as he made his way around the bases and touched home to give his team a 1-0 lead. After that, the Marlins led the rest of the way.
Miami opened up a big lead with four runs in the second inning. Catcher J.T. Realmuto and Gordon each came through with RBI singles while Adeiny Hechavarría doubled home a run. In what was supposed to be a Fernandez start, Adam Conley also squeezed home a run during the frame.
Conley worked three scoreless innings on what turned out to be a bullpen night for Miami. The Marlins added two more runs in the third. Following an RBI triple from Justin Bour, Hechavarria drove him home with a single.
Nine different Miami hurlers kept the Mets from any serious rallies following the strong offensive start. Asdrúbal Cabrera drove in two runs for New York in the loss. A.J. Ramos worked a scoreless ninth for Miami to end the game.
Following the contest, emotional team members placed their caps with Fernández’s No. 16 on the mound. Baseball had returned to Marlins Park, but it would never quite be the same. The Marlins’ first game following Fernández’s unexpected death came on this day five years ago.