ST. PETERSBURG -- Few, if anybody, in the ballpark felt like the Marlins could be caught with a four-run lead in the fourth inning and dominating Jose Fernandez on the mound.Alas, baseball can be unpredictable. The Rays gave themselves an early shot against the Marlins' ace. Ultimately, they didn't get
ST. PETERSBURG -- Few, if anybody, in the ballpark felt like the Marlins could be caught with a four-run lead in the fourth inning and dominating Jose Fernandez on the mound.
Alas, baseball can be unpredictable. The Rays gave themselves an early shot against the Marlins' ace. Ultimately, they didn't get it done in Thursday's 9-1 loss, but one moment led to a chippy exchange between Fernandez and Curt Casali.
The Marlins' right-hander retired the first two batters of the fourth -- the second one, Steven Souza, Jr., via a strikeout. Fernandez would strike out 12 on the day.
Then, the Rays got busy.
Logan Morrison and Corey Dickerson singled before Taylor Motter drew a walk to load the bases for Casali.
The Rays' catcher has some power, and he did what he needed to by getting ahead 2-0.
Fernandez seemed to elevate his game at this point. Casali swung and missed at a 96 mph fastball. More of the same followed on Fernandez's next pitch -- 96 mph heat that Casali again swung at. This time, he made contact, sending a pop foul between the first-base line and the Rays' dugout.
First baseman Chris Johnson made the catch to end the threat.
"[Fernandez] came with two good fastballs," Casali said. "I figured he was going to throw a fastball. I was ready for a fastball. Unfortunately, just wasn't a good enough swing I put on it, and he beat me inside. He put a little run on it and unfortunately, it got inside my barrel there."
Casali started toward first base and shortly thereafter, Fernandez caught his attention.
"I didn't exactly hear what he was saying," Casali said. "Brad [Miller] was yelling at him. I guess he's got that reputation -- he's a competitor. ... I don't exactly know what he said in that instance, but I don't really care for anybody who's looking me down, staring me down in that type of situation. You got me out. Get on with it. Go to the next inning."
"Not at all, it was not with him," Fernandez said afterwards. "It was a tough situation. I fell behind two balls, no strikes, made a good pitch and made another good pitch and showed some emotion. It was like, 'Yeah!' I was really happy I got out of it. Obviously, you know what this team can do with the bat. I heard something from the dugout, didn't pay attention to it. ... I had a goal today, and as a team, we executed."
Casali was asked what he said specifically to Fernandez.
"I don't think I can tell you that," Casali said. "I wasn't happy about it. It was one of those situations that happens sometimes. More of it's probably frustration on our part that he's pitching pretty well and doing a good job against us. But I basically told him to 'go into the dugout. You already got me out.'"
Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005.