Gordon hits emotional homer to honor teammate
MIAMI >> Dee Gordon and the Miami Marlins wore their emotions on the sleeves of their No. 16 jerseys.
Jose Fernandez would have loved it.
Gordon homered leading off the first inning for the Marlins, who totaled 14 hits and mixed cheers with the tears of the past two days by beating the New York Mets 7-3 on Monday night in their first game since Fernandez died in a boating accident.
"We were hitting balls underwater pretty much," slugger Giancarlo Stanton said. "Our eyes were full of water."
Adam Conley pitched three scoreless innings subbing for Fernandez, who had been scheduled to make his final start of the year. Justin Bour went 3 for 3 and Gordon had four hits, including one that will go down in Marlins lore.
Paying tribute to their charismatic ace, the left-handed-hitting Gordon stepped to the plate as a righty leading off the first. After one pitch, Gordon switched to his customary left side, and pulled a 2-0 delivery from Bartolo Colon into the upper deck for his first homer of the season.
The improbable clout brought tears, even from Gordon. He began crying as he circled the bases.
"It seemed like it took forever," he said. "I was trying to get back to my teammates as fast as possible. I was just wondering why Jose wasn't there standing on the top step cheering for me."
After crossing the plate Gordon tapped his chest and waved toward the sky, and sobbed as teammates hugged him in the dugout.
Stanton said the homer from the 170-pound Gordon was unbelievable but easy to explain.
"Pure emotion," Stanton said. "There's no other way it could be scripted, unless you're in a movie rewriting everything that just happened."
Even the Mets appreciated what Gordon's homer meant.
"I saw him crying when he rounded first base," Mets catcher Travis d'Arnaud said. "I was crying too."
Each of the Marlins wore black jerseys bearing Fernandez's No. 16 and name, a tribute they had suggested. Stanton delivered an emotional speech as the entire team gathered at the mound moments before the game, and then contributed a hit, a run and a running, lunging backhanded catch in right field to rob Jay Bruce.
The portly Bour hit his first career triple, which he capped with a belly flop into third before rising to strike a muscleman pose that had his teammates and the crowd of 26,933 smiling.
"Anytime JB slides headfirst, it's kind of funny," Miami manager Don Mattingly said.
Conley returned from finger tendinitis that had sidelined him since Aug. 13, and was followed by eight relievers. Mike Dunn (5-1) pitched a perfect fourth, and Scott McGowan retired pinch-hitter Kelly Johnson with the bases loaded to end the sixth.
A.J. Ramos pitched a hitless ninth. When he retired Curtis Granderson to end the game, the Marlins gathered once more around the edge of the mound and bowed their heads, and then tossed their caps onto the dirt and kneeled, tears flowing yet again for Fernandez.
"It's his spot," Mattingly said. "Just kind of saying bye."
An hour after the game, with the ballpark empty, the players again gathered at the mound for several minutes. Twice there was the sound of laughter.
TURNAROUND FOR METS
Colon (14-8), mourning Fernandez's death himself, allowed a season-high seven runs in 2 1/3 innings.
"It was very difficult for everything they're going through," Colon said through an interpreter. "It's very difficult for me, too, because it was someone that I had some sort of relationship with. Jose looked up to me, and we got along well."
The blowout was a big change for the Mets, who began the week on a stretch of outscoring opponents 25-0 over a two-game span.
New York still leads the NL wild-card race with five games to go.
Before the game, Marlins outfielder Christian Yelich tweeted a photo of Fernandez's locker accompanied by the message: "Tonight this one's for you buddy. Watch over us."
The pregame ceremony included a slow, solemn solo trumpet rendition of "Take Me Out to the Ballgame." Following the national anthem, New York manager Terry Collins led his Mets across the field to share hugs with the Marlins. The mood was such that Miami batting coach Barry Bonds even hugged each of the umpires.
The Marlins then clustered around the mound and scratched out Jose's number or a message of affection in the dirt.
"It's a tough game on the Mets too," Mattingly said. "They handled that with such class."
Mets: RHP Noah Syndergaard, who missed Saturday's start with strep throat, was cleared to pitch Tuesday. ... LHP Steven Matz (shoulder) was examined by a doctor Monday and isn't expected to pitch this week, making it unlikely he'll be available in the postseason.
Syndergaard (13-9, 2.63 ERA) is scheduled to start Tuesday against RHP Tom Koehler (9-12, 4.02 ERA). Syndergaard lasted only 3 2/3 innings in his most recent start.
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