MIAMI (AP) — Jose Fernandez looked just as good as he did last year in the season opener, and the Miami Marlins’ batting order looked much improved.
Fernandez struck out nine and allowed one run in six innings Monday, and Marlins newcomer Casey McGehee drove in four runs with two doubles to help Miami beat the Colorado Rockies 10-1.
The sellout crowd of 37,116 was the largest yet at Marlins Park, which opened two years ago.
The 21-year-old Fernandez earned the victory while becoming the youngest NL opening-day starter since Dwight Gooden in 1986, according to STATS. And he picked up where he left off last season, when he went 12-6 and was voted NL Rookie of the Year.
The right-hander’s strikeout total matched Josh Beckett’s team record for an opener. Fernandez threw 73 strikes and only 21 balls to 23 batters.
The crowd included Fernandez’s grandmother Olga, who lives in Cuba. She saw him pitch for the first time since he left that country at age 15.
Her grandson improved to 10-0 in 16 career starts at Marlins Park with an ERA of 1.21.
What also was different for Fernandez was his run support. The Marlins, who finished last in the majors in most offensive categories while losing 100 games last year, totaled 14 hits while scoring in double figures, something they did only four times in 2013.
Marcell Ozuna homered, doubled, singled and scored twice. Giancarlo Stanton had an RBI infield single and a run-scoring double. Adeiny Hechavarria singled three times and drove in a run.
The Rockies, who began their first season since 1996 without retired first baseman Todd Helton, could have used his pop. His replacement, Justin Morneau, went 1 for 4. Michael Cuddyer, who won the NL batting title in 2013, went 2 for 4.
Carlos Gonzalez homered for the Rockies in the sixth, but by then they trailed 6-0. Jorge De La Rosa (0-1) allowed five runs in 4 1-3 innings in his first opening day start.
The ballpark sound system malfunctioned during the national anthem, and Dan Marino’s ceremonial first pitch was wide of the plate. But thereafter the boisterous crowd — a rarity at Marlins Park since it opened — had plenty to cheer about.
The hit parade was a big change from a team that totaled one run in its first three games a year ago. The victory put Miami above .500 for the first time since June 2012.
Ozuna homered in the third for Miami’s first hit. McGehee’s hits came in his return to the majors after spending last season in Japan.
“I woke up this morning looking at the clock, waiting for it to be time to go to the ballpark, saying, ‘Hurry up!'” McGehee said before the game.
Marlins president of baseball operations Mike Hill, who oversaw an overhaul of their lineup during the offseason, was also eager to get started. When asked before the game when his team will contend, Hill said, “What time is the first pitch?”
NOTES: Marlins INF Rafael Furcal, who began the season on the DL with a strained left hamstring, said he expects to play five or six games on a rehabilitation assignment. He hopes to be activated around April 14. … Rockies manager Walt Weiss had two hits and two RBIs when he started at SS in the Marlins’ first game 21 years ago. … The Marlins’ bid for back to back no-hitters ended with the second batter, when Cuddyer singled. Henderson Alvarez pitched a no-hitter for Miami on the final day of last season.
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