Jose Fernandez makes first start since 2014, homers
0:50 | MLB
Jose Fernandez makes first start since 2014, homers
Thursday July 2nd, 2015

Welcome back, Jose Fernandez. Making his first start of the season and his first appearance on a mound since May 9, 2014, the Marlins' ace not only pitched well, but also cranked a long solo home run to leftfield, only the second of his career, in his return from Tommy John surgery.

Leading off the bottom of the fifth and with the Marlins down 3–1, Fernandez—facing the Giants' Matt Cain, another pitcher making his 2015 debut after an injury-shortened '14—ran the count to 1–1, then connected on a 91-mile-per-hour fastball that stayed belt-high and didn't move. Fernandez didn't miss it, booming a shot out to left-centerfield that just got over the Clevelander pool and bar section in Marlins Park. The homer, which was Fernandez's first since his rookie season in '13, set off a raucous celebration at the stadium, with Fernandez getting a standing ovation as he rounded the bases.

The Marlins weren't done with Fernandez's homer, however. After Dee Gordon struck out for the first out, Christian Yelich walked and Adeiny Hechavarria singled before Justin Bourwho hit a walk-off home run on Wednesday night—struck once again, bashing a three-run homer to right off Cain to give Miami a 5–3 lead. A Buster Posey homer in the eighth cut the Marlins' advantage to one run, but that was as close as the Giants would get, as A.J. Ramos closed out San Francisco to give Miami a 5–4 win and three-game series sweep.

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For as fun as Fernandez's blast was, the Marlins and their fans were likely more relieved to see the 22-year-old righthander and his surgically reconstructed elbow get through the day relatively unscathed. In six innings, Fernandez gave up seven hits and three runs, striking out six against no walks. He ran into some trouble in the first, allowing the first two hitters of the game to reach and giving up two runs, but settled down from there, giving up just four hits and a run over his next five frames. The only damage done after the first came on a solo homer to the upper deck in right off the bat of Gregor Blanco, who had also singled off Fernandez to start the game. But Fernandez showed good velocity overall, pumping his fastball as high as 99 mph, and displayed his trademark wipe-out slider on multiple occasions.

Fernandez's day didn't end on the mound, but it did finish with a strikeout, as he took his final of three at-bats with two outs in the sixth inning and struck out swinging against Mike Broadway. It wasn't exactly a storybook ending for Fernandez, but it is one that's likely easily forgotten in light of his unexpected power and incident-free return.

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