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Volquez's magical day ends with perfect touch

MLB.com @RichardJustice

Afterwards, Marlins right-hander Edinson Volquez spoke of his late friends -- Yordano Ventura and Jose Fernandez. He said he misses them and was sure they were watching from somewhere and cheering him on.

In this way, he let their families know that they have not been forgotten, that baseball still grieves for them.

Afterwards, Marlins right-hander Edinson Volquez spoke of his late friends -- Yordano Ventura and Jose Fernandez. He said he misses them and was sure they were watching from somewhere and cheering him on.

In this way, he let their families know that they have not been forgotten, that baseball still grieves for them.

So there.

Sometimes, a magical day such as this one feels almost predestined. Things just line up a certain way. Volquez pitched his first career no-hitter Saturday afternoon in South Florida in a 3-0 victory over the D-backs.

He did it despite a right ankle he thought he'd broken in a collision sustained while covering first base in the top of the first inning.

Video: ARI@MIA: Volquez gets out, collides with Fuentes

He was limping to and from the mound in the final innings, seemingly getting by on adrenaline and determination.

But when it ended, he did not want it to be about him. He may not ever have a better day in baseball, but his mind was elsewhere.

He posted a photo of himself and Ventura on his Instagram account before he took the mound at Marlins Park. He reminded us that Ventura would have turned 26 on Saturday and that he still misses him and still thinks about him.

 

They'd been teammates on the Royals, winning the World Series in 2015, and he'd been devastated when Ventura died in a one-car accident in the Dominican Republic last January.

"It means a lot," Volquez said. "I was pretty close to him. This really hurts. To do something like I did today, that is really special for me to dedicate the game to him. It was one of those days you wake up and don't really know what's going to happen. Next thing you know, you have a no-hitter.

Video: ARI@MIA: Volquez gets 27 outs in no-hitter

He thought of Fernandez as well on Saturday. They were never teammates, but he passes his locker each day in the home clubhouse. Fernandez's teammates have preserved it and put it behind plastic so that his meteoric life is never forgotten. He died last September in an early morning boating accident in South Florida. He was 24.

:: Edinson Volquez's no-hitter ::

This was to have been a special season for Fernandez because, with the Marlins hosting the All-Star Game on July 12, he would have served as an informal host for an entire region. Yes, he was that popular.

"Everybody loved Jose," Volquez said. "I can say that's for him, too. I really appreciate what he did here, and people loved him. I'm really blessed to throw a no-hitter on his bump."

Years from now, Volquez may look back and decide the ankle injury actually helped him. Because he was limited in how much he could move, perhaps he was forced back to basics and focused on mechanics and trusting his stuff in a way he doesn't always.

Volquez collided with D-backs center fielder and leadoff hitter Rey Fuentes when both were going toward first base right at the start of the game. When Volquez was collecting himself, Marlins second baseman Dee Gordon told catcher J.T. Realmuto that Volquez was going to be really good.

"After the game, he came up to me and said, 'I told you. I told you. I knew he was going to throw that,'" Realmuto said.

Volquez said he told the Marlins medical staff after the fourth inning that he didn't think he could continue.

Video: ARI@MIA: Volquez on his ankle injury during no-no

Oh, and because he was moving with a limp, a hamstring had started to tighten up. At that point, the Marlins had a 1-0 lead, so there was no margin for error.

Anyway, Volquez needed 16 pitches to get through the fifth inning and just five to finish the sixth, and as Mattingly said, "After that, there was no taking him out."

"When I got to the seventh, I was like, 'You've got to go for it,'" Volquez said.

When a pitcher is really good, the game isn't complicated. Volquez threw a first-pitch strike to 19 of 27 hitters. When he did get behind, he threw 61.9 percent of his pitches for strikes.

As a result, he allowed just two baserunners, both on walks, but both were erased by double plays. This is the guy who began the day with a 1-7 record and 4.44 ERA.

In the late innings, as his teammates stayed away from him in the dugout to avoid a jinx, Volquez said he actually needed someone to talk to.

"I'm not that kind of guy," he said. "I'd go crazy. I've got to talk to somebody. They kind of put their head down, they'd say, 'Yeah. Yeah.' I was like, 'What's wrong with you"' I don't mind talking to anybody. I like to talk."

His teammates will be talking about what they saw on Saturday afternoon for the rest of their careers. Volquez will remember it, too, for a lot of reasons, some of them joyous, some of them incomprehensibly sad. He had a perfect touch with both.

Richard Justice has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2011. Read his columns and follow him on Twitter at @RichardJustice This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Miami Marlins, Edinson Volquez