Once they got 20-year-old Jose Fernandez out of the game, the New York Mets breathed a sigh of relief and went to work.
Marlon Byrd grounded a two-run single just inside third base in the bottom of the ninth inning and New York rallied for a 4-3 victory over the Miami Marlins on Sunday.
Daniel Murphy homered and Anthony Recker had a run-scoring double for the Mets, who spoiled an impressive major league debut by the Marlins' prized pitching prospect, whose efforts didn't go unnoticed by his opposition.
"He's going to be a good one," Byrd predicted, saying Fernandez reminded him of Seattle Mariners ace Felix Hernandez. "He's one of those guys if he's on, it really doesn't matter if you've seen him or not. He's going to be electric."
Justin Ruggiano, Chris Valaika and Donovan Solano (three hits) each had an RBI double off substitute starter Aaron Laffey to give the Marlins an early 3-0 cushion. But closer Steve Cishek (0-1) was unable to hold a one-run lead in the ninth, and Miami dropped to 1-5 heading into tonight's home opener against Atlanta.
Fernandez, who had never been above Single-A, gave up one run and three hits in five innings. He walked one and struck out eight, a record for a Marlins pitcher in his major league debut.
"I was more nervous watching five through nine than when I was pitching," Fernandez said. "It didn't feel any different. It was more like a spring training game."
Recker had an RBI double in the fifth, his first hit for the Mets, but Fernandez fanned Byrd and retired Collin Cowgill on a popup to leave the game with a 3-1 lead after 80 pitches.
Miami plans to keep Fernandez on a pitch count all season and limit him to 150-170 innings.
Pitching with his parents in the stands, Fernandez flashed a mid-90s mph fastball and showed advanced command of his sharp breaking ball. He retired his first 10 batters, striking out five, before Murphy lined a single to center.
Murphy said the first time through the lineup against Fernandez was "a fact-finding mission for us as an offense."
"That guy's got good stuff," he said. "I thought we stayed patient. … We were able to kind of get that pitch count up just a little bit to get into their bullpen in the sixth. You get in in the sixth, it gives you four shots at the bullpen and that's kind of what we're looking for."