Jose Fernandez saved his first home run for his final at-bat of his rookie season.
But in the end Wednesday, the hit was the last thing anybody was talking about. It was the first three steps he took out of the batter's box, the flip of his bat and the hot-dogging he did before rounding the bases, an immature, rookie mistake his manager said and one the Braves took exception to.
"I took the first two steps and right away my reaction was 'Man I got to run,'" Fernandez said. "It was just not good. I walked the first three steps and I said 'What I'm doing? I'm not in high school no more. Run.' I have to respect the game a lot more than I did there."
"I feel embarrassed. I feel like I don't deserve to be here. This isn't high school no more. This is a professional game and professional players doing what they're supposed to do. I don't think this was supposed to happen. And I'm embarrassed. Hopefully it won't happen again. I made a mistake and I'm going to learn from it."
The Braves obviously weren't happy. Benches and bullpens cleared as the teams came face-to-face at the plate. But no punches were ever thrown.
Fernandez said Braves catcher Brian McCann, an All-Star teammate, defused the situation.
"He and I are really close. Freddie Freeman too. He told me 'Buddy you can't do that.' [I said] 'I know man. The game got the best of me," Fernandez said. "If at any moment if there was going to be a fight, he was talking to me like a friend. I wouldn't say as a friend, I would say as a Dad teaching a kid. That's how it felt. I don't think it was a fight kind of stuff. It was a friend type of thing."
Fernandez came over to the Braves locker room and spoke to McCann and pitcher Mike Minor outside after the game, apologizing for his actions.
"He took exception to Gattis' home run [the half inning prior," McCann said. "You could tell that walking off the field. He happened to hit a home run and stood there. I just told him you can't do that. You're going to get someone hurt. It's just something that didn't need to happen. I think he realized that he messed up. I think the emotions got the best of him tonight."
That being said, Redmond wasn't happy. Neither were his teammates. Fernandez several teammates took him into the walkway near the clubhouse and talked to him about his mistake. A pitcher who has always used his emotions to fuel him, it's obvious they finally caught up to Fernandez Wednesday.
"When you watch him pitch, he's got a lot of things he does on the field you could do without," McCann said.
"It's one of those things, probably immaturity a little bit," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "He's a playful guy on the mound, and he likes to have fun, and we like to have fun too. If he's going to play that game, which is fine, he shouldn't get upset when we hit a home run and have fun ourselves. It was boys being boys after that. I'm going to chalk it up to a young kid that's really talented, and he's going to be around in the big leagues for a lot of years."
Redmond said the antics ruined the night for him. Fernandez gave up just five hits and one earned run over seven innings.
"I think tonight showed some immaturity on Jose's part and his youth -- not to make excuses for it," Redmond said. "Showing the other team up with a home run, that's not what we're doing here. That's not what we're trying to do. I know he got caught up in emotion, but I'm not happy. It really ruined the night for me. I know that will never happen again.
"In this game you have to control everything. Your emotions are just as big a part of the game as your physical skills. You have to be able to emotionally slow the game down and all the things tonight brough -- his last start, the Braves, big crowd -- sometimes that shows he's 21 and he's human. He's an emotional guy and that's the part of the game he's going to have to learn and get a hold of. You got to realize your going to give up a hit, you're going to give up a home run. But like I said those are those some of the aspects of the game he's going to have to continue to learn."
Redmond said the Marlins just aren't a team that deserves to hot dog it.
"We're 30 something games under .500. We don't have the right to be flashy or show anybody up," he said. "We haven't earned that. I think it's a learning experience for him. I think he understands that. I think he'll learn from it and like I said I don't think he'll ever make that mistake again."
Marlins pitcher Tom Koehler was only a sophomore in high school when the attacks of September 11th took place at the World Trade Center, but the day's events remain fresh in his mind a dozen years later.
Koehler's father, Rolf, a 21-year veteran with the New York Police Department, was one of the first responders on the scene. Rolf is alive today even though he was close by when the second tower came crashing down, Koehler said, taking the lives of many of his friends and colleagues among the thousands who perished.
"He wasn't directly in the impact zone, but he was close enough," Koehler said. "You could see the smoke from the towers from my high school [New Rochelle High]. There was a two, three--hour period where I knew my Dad was heading down there but the cell phones weren't working. So I couldn't get in contact with him. He finally reached out to my mom and told her he was going to be down there a few days. Anybody who has a family member in the [New York Fire Department] or the NYPD knows all the work they put in."
Koehler said his father, still deeply affected by the days' events, stepped down from his post as sargeant a year after the attacks.
"Every year on 9-11 they read the names of everybody who died and today was a little tougher for my dad because one of the guys he went to the police academy with and was friends with, it was his daughter who was reading the names on TV," Koehler said. "He happened to lose his life that day. So it was a little bit of a tougher one for Dad."
"Talking about it I kind of get a little emotional. I realize how big of a day that was. It really impacted my life a lot. I'm very fortunate he's still here. There were a lot of people who lost their lives. We really have to remember all those heroes that lost their lives -- people that didn't know anybody in those buildings but ran into those buildings trying to save as many lives as they did. It makes what we do for a living, puts things in perspective a little bit."
Koehler said the images shown on TV of 9-11 on the anniversary every year are hard for him and other New Yorkers to take.
"They think showing highlights and tributes of what happened that day are a good thing. But for the people that were there, it hits them different," Koehler said. "I know last year he went to the memorial and couldn't even make it through, all teary-eyed and stuff. Thousands of people lost their lives. Twelve years later it still hits home pretty good."
> Manager Mike Redmond said it's unlikely pitcher Nathan Eovaldi will make his scheduled start in Thursday's series finale against the Braves. Eovaldi showed up to the ballpark Wednesday with a tight back Redmond said. The Marlins will move left-hander Brian Flynn up a day to start in Eovaldi's place if he doesn't recover overnight. Redmond said he doesn't expect Eovaldi's health to improve.
> Catcher Jeff Mathis badly wanted to catch Jose Fernandez's final start of the season Wednesday but his badly bruised right thumb wouldn't let him Redmond said. It's likely Mathis will undergo another x-ray soon -- once the swelling has gone down -- to see if the finger is fractured.
"He said it felt better today," Redmond said. "If everything is fine... it's a day-to-day situation."
> With Fernandez making his last start Wednesday, the Marlins will turn their focus to the rest of their starting rotation for the remainder of the season.
Asked if anyone has really earned a spot in it for next year, Redmond said: "I think that's the thing with young guys -- it takes time and see exactly what you got. I think this year the good thing is we got a lot of young guys and once we got them healthy we were able to get them consistent innings. I think we saw what guys are capable of. What you always look for in pitching is the consistency. That's where you start solidifying roles.
"I've never been big into like this guy is a No. 3 starter or No. 4 or 5. I know in baseball that's how you evaluate. Honestly after Opening Day I don't think it really matters. I think the good thing is we've gotten to see guys. Eovaldi, [Henderson] Alvarez, [Jacob] Turner, Koehler have gotten a lot of opportunities to start. The key is going to be what do these guys turn into next year. Do they carry it over? Do they pitch even better? You're always going to have that kind of uncertainty. What is Tom Koehler going to be like next year? What is Alvarez going to be like next year? That's kind of the unknown. The good thing is we've been able to see these guys and we like a lot of them. I think a guy like Tom Koehler it's been great he's had a lot of opportunities to start. Whether he's a starter down the road or a bullpen guy that's kind of left to be said. We'll kind of figure it out as we go. But it's kind of nice to know he's an option as a starter and can give us a chance to win a ball game."
> Braves (87-57): 1. Jordan Schafer CF, 2. Justin Upton RF, 3. Freddie Freeman 1B, 4. Evan Gattis LF, 5. Brian McCann C, 6. Chris Johnson 3B, 7. Andrelton Simmons SS, 8. Elliot Johnson 2B, 9. Mike Minor LHP.
> Marlins (53-90): 1. Adeiny Hechavarria SS, 2. Placido Polanco 3B, 3. Christian Yelich LF, 4. Giancarlo Stanton RF, 5. Justin Ruggiano CF, 6. Ed Lucas 2B, 7. Logan Morrison 1B, 8. Koyie Hill C, 9. Jose Fernandez RHP.