Baseball

Reliving an agonizing, emotional, unforgettable night at Marlins Park

Adam Conley threw 45 pitches and doesn’t remember any of them.

“I don’t even know what I did out there,” Conley said.

Giancarlo Stanton made four trips to the plate and doesn’t remember seeing the ball.

“We were hitting balls from underwater pretty much, our eyes full of water,” Stanton said.

Dee Gordon hit a home run and doesn’t remember rounding the bases.

“It took forever. It seemed like it took forever,” said Gordon, the fastest man on the Marlins.

On a night that none of them will ever forget — what Gordon said was the most difficult game he’s ever played in in his life — the Marlins fought sadness and grief to pull out an emotional 7-3 win over the New York Mets.

All any of them could think about was Jose Fernandez, their teammates who was killed in a boating accident the day before.

“I just kept looking over at the ribbon board, kept seeing his name, just kept saying how is he not here?” Gordon said. “Every time I saw his number and name, I kept hearing his voice.”

Since all the Marlins wore jerseys on Monday with Fernandez’s number and name on the back, they often felt like they were seeing his ghost.

“I’d catch a flash of J.B. or Koehler going by (wearing Fernandez uniforms), and I was “there he is,” Stanton said, referring to teammates Justin Bour and Tom Koehler. “We were waiting for that reality TV show to say they got us.”

It was Stanton who gathered his teammates on the field just before the first pitch was thrown and delivered a speech. He doesn’t remember much of what he said.

“Honestly I went kind of numb in that moment,” Stanton said. “I don’t know if I was stuttering. I don’t even know if I was saying the right stuff. A lot of us were talking about ‘Why are we here right now? What’s the main purpose of this? How do we get through this together?’ I was trying to ease all that, telling them we’re all here for Jose. We’re the last hope and the last heart for him, and we need to come together, as hard as it’s going to be.”

It was a night of hugging and crying.

The Mets came out of their dugout, walked onto the field, and embraced the Marlins before the first pitch was thrown.

Fernandez had been scheduled to pitch Monday. That duty fell, instead, to Conley.

“That was Jose’s mound today before I went to take it,” Conley said. “He was the starting pitcher today. I didn’t go out there. It was Jose’s day to start. And things just changed so quickly.”

Conley, who had not pitched in more than a month and was activated from the disabled list in time for Monday’s start, pitched three shutout innings before coming out.

“Nothing I felt today had anything to do with pitching,” Conley said.

Reliever Mike Dunn took over in the fourth.

“I’m kind of glad I pitched in the fourth because I got it out of the way,” said Dunn, who usually appears in later innings. “I didn’t have to sit around and think about it. Emotionally I was okay when I was pitching.”

But as soon as he completed his inning, Dunn broke down.

“When I got done, I was a train wreck,” he said. “I immediately headed for cover (inside the clubhouse). I sat down, took off my hat, and it just hit me. I bawled like my 11-month-old son. I don’t know how the position players did it. I only had to go out there for one inning. They had to play all nine.”

Cameras zooming in on Stanton showed him crying throughout the top of the first inning. In the bottom of the first, Gordon purposely took Bartolo Colon’s first pitch as a tribute to Fernandez.

Gordon belted Colon’s second pitch into the upper deck. It was his first home run of the season, and after he circled the bases, touched home plate, and returned to the dugout, he started sobbing, because the one player he would have expected to see — Fernandez — wasn’t there.

“I was just wondering why he wasn’t there standing on the top step, cheering for me,” Gordon said.

After closer A.J. Ramos took the flip from Miguel Rojas and stepped on first for the final out, the Marlins came out of the dugout for the traditional handshakes.

But there was nothing traditional about what happened next.

Ramos took the ball and placed it on the mound, just behind the rubber.

Then the Marlins formed a circle around the mound, their arms wrapped around each other’s shoulders.

They knelt to one knee and bowed their hands.

Then every one of them took off their caps and tossed them on the mound, left them there, and filed back to the dugout and inside the clubhouse.

Manager Don Mattingly bent down and kissed the dirt mound.

“It was saying bye,” Mattingly said. “It was his spot. It was just his spot.”

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