Marlins make loud impression on celebratory night
Hand, Cishek, Ramos, Caminero combine on no-hitter to open series honoring Rivera
PANAMA CITY, Panama -- The Marlins are in town to gain international exposure and spread the club's message to an audience in Central America.
They are here to pay homage to Mariano Rivera in the Legend Series in his home country, and they feel honored to do so.
But the Marlins also came to Panama ready to play.
"It is a great celebration, but at the same time, we are preparing for the start of the season," Marlins manager Mike Redmond said. "We try to win these games. We still have guys fighting for spots and jobs in the starting lineup and the bullpen."
Four Marlins pitchers combined to throw a no-hitter against the Yankees in a 5-0 victory in the opener of the two-game Legend Series at Rod Carew Stadium. The series continues Sunday before the teams return to their camps to resume Grapefruit League play in Florida.
"It's a first no-hitter I've ever seen or been a part of in Spring Training," Redmond said. "Last year, we had Henderson Alvarez throw a no-hitter on the last day of the season and that was pretty cool. Tonight, it was just a testament to how the guys played. We made good plays on defense, too. All in all, it was a great day and one I'll remember for a long time."
Brad Hand set the tone early in his start for the Marlins, striking out six batters in five flawless innings. Steve Cishek followed suit and allowed only a walk in the one inning he pitched before passing the ball to A.J. Ramos. All Ramos did was pitch two stellar innings.
Arquimedes Caminero closed out the game with a perfect ninth.
"It was a great pitching performance, and it was good to see us take advantage and manufacture our first run," Redmond said. "It was good to see our guys put together some good at-bats and we also had some stolen bases. Overall, it was a good night. I was happy with the effort. Guys were energized by the fans, and they went out there and played hard."
It's already been a trip to remember for the Marlins. The team attended a gala Friday to benefit the Mariano Rivera Foundation, with proceeds going to Children's Hospital in Panama City, the country's largest pediatric hospital. Several players toured the Panama Canal on Saturday.
Marlins players Adeiny Hechavarria, Caminero and Rodrigo Vigil participated in a baseball clinic for the city's youth a few hours before Saturday's game, along with Yankees outfielder Zoilo Almonte and catcher Gary Sanchez.
"I didn't know too much about [Panama] to be honest, but we got down here and it's beautiful," Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton said. "It's a learning experience and I'm happy I can bring baseball down here."
There's no denying Rivera has been the star of the weekend. He is one of Panama's favorite sons, and the crowd erupted in cheers when he walked in from center field to throw out the ceremonial first pitch and kick off the festivities.
"I don't think it's kind of what we imagined," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "Before the game started, I thought the ceremony was tremendous. You talk about kind of closure for Mo, leaving the country when you're 16 or 17 years old and being able to come back, I'm sure it had to be special. But it wasn't the historic night that I envisioned."