Jose Fernandez got the better of Yasiel Puig in Monday's Miami showdown of rookie Cuban exiles, which -- for one night, anyhow -- brought some rare magic and excitement to Marlins Park. Though the upper deck was closed, the announced crowd of 27,127 represented the third-largest home figure of the season. There were 6,000 walk-ups, according to team officials.
They got their money's worth.
Puig was hitless in his three at bats against Fernandez and finished the night 0 for 5. After striking out in the fifth with runners at the corners, he became so upset with home plate umpire John Hirschbeck that he had to be calmed by Dodgers teammates Hanley Ramirez and Juan Uribe.
One game does not make or break a Rookie of the Year campaign. But Fernandez might be ahead in the straw poll if one were taken now. Check out this article by ESPN's David Schoenfield, who wrote that if the ROY vote were taken today, he would rate the edge to the Marlins' 21-year-old pitcher. Based on advanced metric formulas, Schoenfield points out that Fernandez holds a narrow edge over Puig.
The problems facing Fernandez in garnering top rookie honors are several. One, his season will soon be coming to an end when he reaches the innings cap the organization has placed upon him. He should receive no more than three or four more starts. Fernandez will turn into a spectator in September while Puig and the Dodgers remain in the national spotlight. Puig also plays in L.A., where there's no shortage of media hype. Finally, Puig is a position player who can dazzle and make the highlight reel on any given day. Being a starting pitcher, Fernandez can only show off once every five days -- and only a few more times, at that.
A few leftover stats from last night's game:
-- Fernandez improved his home numbers to 6-0 with a 1.40 ERA -- the best home ERA in the majors.
-- Fernandez set a club record by holding the opponent to five hits or less for the 11th consecutive start. Surprisingly, the old record of 10 straight belonged to Tony Saunders (1997).
The lingering fallout from the departure of hitting coach Tino Martinez might have cost Chris Valaika a roster spot (see my story here). According to sources, the Marilns wanted to call up Valaika from Triple A New Orleans after Placido Polanco went on the concussion list. But Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria vetoed the consensus recommendation of the front office and coaching staff, and Gil Velazquez was called up instead.
Speculation within the organization is that Loria nixed the move because of sentiment for Martinez, his hand-picked choice for the job. Martinez had a verbal altercation with Valaika -- among a host of players -- that culminated in his resignation last month. If Valaika is paying the price for his involvement, it probably doesn't bode well for Derek Dietrich, either. Dietrich was confronted physically by Martinez, as well as verbally, and is now playing at Double A Jacksonville.