Right-hander Pedro Fernandez‘ return to Wilmington in 2016 has been completely different from how his 2015 season ended in Wilmington.
Prior to Saturday night’s Game 2 doubleheader start, Fernandez had made five starts, three of which lasted at least five innings (something he did just twice in seven starts last year). In those seven 2015 starts, he did not allow less than three runs or six hits.
Fernandez had just one start where he allowed more than a run and that came against Frederick on Monday (4.1IP, 6H, 5R, 3BB, 0K).
It was hard to watch Fernandez after his promotion to Wilmington last season and I was intrigued to see how much he had changed this season. Well, he started Saturday night out great (which was something he did not do last year).
Check out his first inning below:
Fernandez’ dominance continued past that first inning. He set Myrtle Beach down in order in the first four innings. He struck out the first batter of the game on three pitches. He did that again to start the second. Heading into the 5th inning, Fernandez had racked up five strikeouts.
Fernandez retired the first batter of the fifth before Jason Vosler lined a single over the head of shortstop Humberto Arteaga to end the perfect game. “I wasn’t thinking I had a perfect game going or anything like that,” Fernandez said through translator Alfredo Escalera after the game. “I wasn’t noticing how many hits they had or anything else going on. I was more worried about throwing sliders for strikes and changeups for strikes and trying to get guys out.”
Fernandez didn’t let the Pelicans ruining his perfect game get to him. Two pitches later, he induced an inning ending double play. He ended up only facing one over the minimum, as he allowed a leadoff single in the sixth. A stolen base followed, but so did two strikeouts and a fly out.
In the seventh, Fernandez got a little amped up for his first ever complete game. “He got wound up there in the last inning, but understandably, it was the ninth inning to him being a seventh inning game…” manager Jamie Quirk said following the game.
After a strikeout started the inning, he allowed a single. But just like the 5th inning, Fernandez induced a double play.
“I thank God and it was a great experience having thrown a complete game for the first time,” Fernandez said. “My fastball was great tonight and I was able to get some good run on it on the arm side and my changeup was working really well for me too…I was feeling myself real well out there early so with my fastball working and I kept going back to it and they kept swinging late so I didn’t change it. All of my pitches were working tonight.”
Quirk talked after the game about Fernandez being “the aggressor”, pounding the strike zone, and not trying to trick the opposition. It worked. Hopefully, Fernandez can continue being the aggressor into his next start which should come in Salem next weekend, and beyond.
You can watch the entire interview below (thanks to outfielder Alfredo Escalera for being the translator):