To start the 1997 season, the Florida Marlins were red hot. On this day 25 years ago at Wrigley Field however, the temperatures were anything but.
In freezing weather, Alex Fernandez was nearly unhittable. In just his second start as a member of the Marlins, Fernandez tossed a one-hitter in a 1-0 shutout of the Chicago Cubs.
The Marlins were 6-1 as they arrived at Wrigley Field on April 10, 1997. The Cubs were 0-7 and looking for their first win.
Early on, it looked as though it might be a solid day offensively for the Marlins. Gary Sheffield’s RBI single in the first gave Florida an early 1-0 lead and that would be the game’s only run.
Despite four errors from his defense, Fernandez went the distance. Through eight innings, the Cubs didn’t record a single hit.
After Fernandez struck out Dave Clark to open the bottom of the ninth, Dave Hansen legged out an infield single for Chicago’s only hit of the day. After that, errors on third baseman Bobby Bonilla and shortstop Edgar Renteria made things interesting.
With two outs in the ninth, those miscues allowed the Cubs to load the bases. Chicago was a ball away from tying the game, but Fernandez managed to strike out Ryne Sandberg on a 3-2 pitch to end the contest.
Fernandez finished the day with eight strikeouts and threw 116 pitches. Luis Castillo had two of the seven hits for the Marlins, stole a base and scored the game’s only run. Despite pitching well, Frank Castillo took the loss for the Cubs.
Fernandez would spend four seasons on the Marlins’ roster and would win a team-high 17 games in 1997. Unfortunately, a postseason injury would force Fernandez to miss the National League Championship Series and World Series.
During his time with Florida, the Miami native recorded six complete games. His first was a one-hit shutout that took place on this day a quarter-century ago.