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ATL@MIA: Fernandez hits first home run, benches clear

MIAMI -- Jose Fernandez inspired with his arm, infuriated with his bat and made a strong closing argument as to why he should be the National League Rookie of the Year.

In seven innings, Fernandez set off all kinds of emotions and even stirred up some controversy on Wednesday night in front of 25,111 at Marlins Park.

Fernandez allowed one run, struck out five and belted his first big league home run in the Marlins' 5-2 victory over the Braves.

The hard-throwing 21-year-old wrapped up his sensational season at 12-6 with a 2.19 ERA and 187 strikeouts in 172 2/3 innings. Fernandez's dominance is reflected by the fact opponents batted just .182 against him, which ties Hideo Nomo (1995) for the best mark by a rookie pitcher since 1900.

As if his Rookie of the Year argument needed any more strength, Fernandez delivered two hits and his first big league homer.

"When he came out of the game and he was done, I said, 'Congratulations ROY [Rookie of the Year],'" Marlins first baseman Logan Morrison said. "I think he just cemented that with that homer."

It was certainly a memorable season finale for Fernandez, who also found himself in the middle of a benches-clearing shoving match.

After connecting on his 393-foot drive to left off Mike Minor with two outs in the sixth inning, Fernandez admired his shot.

"I think the game got the best of me today," Fernandez said. "It's something that can't happen. It's not good for baseball."

The rookie pitcher flipped his bat and watched the flight before trotting slowly around the bases. Minor stared at the Miami rookie, and by the time Fernandez reached home plate, catcher Brian McCann went chest to chest to say a few words to him.

"He's like, 'You're a kid and you're in the big leagues and you need to do what big leaguers do,'" Fernandez said. "I told him, 'I'm sorry. I'm not that kind of guy.' I'm embarrassed in front of my fans, in front of my teammates. It's something I'm not proud of, at all."

Both benches cleared, and seconds later, so did the bullpens. Some pushing and shoving went on before order was restored.

"He definitely had way more energy tonight than he has in the past," Marlins manager Mike Redmond said. "Then again, you have a 21-year-old kid and he's making his last start of the year. He knows it was his last start of the year. He goes out there, and of course, he wants to dominate and have a great last show in front of his fans. He let his emotions get the best of him tonight. He's got to learn from it. It's a good learning experience for him."

Showing their support for Fernandez, all the Miami players before the game sported #Jose4ROY T-shirts, raising awareness for his NL Rookie of the Year case.

"I think it's great," Redmond said. "I think all the guys realize how much energy he brings to the ballclub and the team and the area. He's a great kid. He's a great teammate. He supports the guys. He is pumped when guys get big hits. He sits on the bench the whole game. He's a great teammate. How do you not pull for a guy who pulls for you? I think that's another thing that sets him apart from your average Major League pitcher."

Giancarlo Stanton gave Fernandez some help against Atlanta, delivering a two-run homer and driving in three runs. Miami doubled a two-run edge in the fifth inning on Stanton's impressive two-run homer to center. The blast was No. 20 on the season for Stanton, and it provided Fernandez with a four-run lead.

"It's good to see him get a hold of a hanging breaking ball," Redmond said. "He crushed that."

It didn't take long for the Braves to chip back a little closer. On the first pitch of the sixth inning, Evan Gattis jumped all over a 96-mph fastball and blasted it into the seats in left for his 19th home run.

Fernandez wasn't thrilled with Gattis' reaction, feeling he was showing him up, which led to what took place in the bottom half of the inning.

"He took exception to Gattis' home run," 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 can get someone hurt. It was just something that didn't need to happen."

Wednesday marked the 28th and final start for Fernandez, who entered his rookie season aware he faced an innings limit of around 170. The right-hander entered the night with 165 2/3 innings, but he was informed he could pitch as far into the game as possible.

The Marlins provided their young ace with a one-run lead in the first inning on Stanton's two-out RBI single to right. The run was unearned because of a throwing error by second baseman Elliot Johnson on Christian Yelich's slow-rolling infield single.

In the fourth inning, the Marlins took a 2-0 lead on Morrison's RBI single, which scored Ed Lucas, who doubled. Fernandez did his part to turn the lineup around with a two-out single.

Fernandez's 11 hits are tied for the second most in a season by a Marlins rookie pitcher. In 2006, Scott Olsen also had 11, and the team mark is 14 by Dontrelle Willis in 2003.

The night belonged to Fernandez, who made a statement but also showed his emotions.

"I understand that he was upset, I guess Gattis stared at him or whatever," Morrison said. "I didn't see it, but that is what he was saying. I just think that because two wrongs don't make a right-type of deal. He's young.

"The emotions are high, and he's a fierce competitor and a bulldog. I don't think we're sending a message that he needs to lose any of that. That's what makes him great. And he did just hit his first home run off a pretty good pitcher. It's something that's going to happen when you only have [two years] of professional baseball. There is a way you need to act. He will."

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