Jose Fernandez looked like a little kid Sunday as he leaped over the third-base line on his way to the field in the first inning. Once he got to the mound, he looked like a poised veteran.
Fernandez, 20, struck out eight batters in five innings, setting a Marlins club record for a pitcher making his major league debut.
But after leaving the game with a 3-1 lead, he watched as the New York Mets scored twice in the bottom of the ninth to beat the Marlins 4-3.
“Fernandez pitched great and deserved to win that game. That one hurt,’’ manager Mike Redmond said.
The Marlins collected a season-high 13 hits but left 12 on base and went 2-for-14 with runners in scoring position.
With Miami up 3-2, closer Steve Cishek got the first out in the ninth inning before grazing Ruben Tejada’s jersey with a slider.
Pinch-hitter Kirk Nieuwenhuis singled and the Mets had runners at second and third after advancing on the throw to the infield.
Marlon Byrd then singled inside the left-field line with the game-winning hit, sending the Marlins home at 1-5 on their season-opening trip.
“It’s incredibly disappointing,’’ Cishek said.
Fernandez said he was antsy watching the end of the game.
“I think I was more nervous sitting in the dugout watching the sixth through the ninth inning than I was pitching,’’ said Fernandez, who allowed a run on three hits and one walk. He threw 80 pitches, 53 for strikes.
“I’m disappointed that the team didn’t get the win. I don’t really care about me.”
Fernandez, whose last start of the 2012 season was in the Class A Florida State League, said he never got nervous on the mound.
“I really thought it was going to be a lot bigger,’’ he said. “I felt like I was pitching in a spring training game. But I enjoyed it.’’
Fernandez’s first pitch, a 93 mph fastball, was a called strike to Collin Cowgill, and it set the tone. He tossed a 1-2-3 inning, throwing eight pitches (seven strikes) to induce fly outs to left, center and right field.
“That was good feeling: ‘OK, three pop-ups. All right. Keep throwing strikes and trying to keep making good pitches,’ ’’ said Fernandez, the 14th overall draft pick in 2011 after defecting from Cuba in 2008.
Fernandez struck out the side in the second inning, throwing 15 pitches, nine for strikes. His first strikeout victim was Ike Davis, looking at an 80 mph curveball. Mike Baxter and Lucas Duda went down swinging.
He had a 1-2-3 third inning, throwing 10 pitches, seven for strikes. He ran into a little trouble in the fourth inning after striking out Cowgill.
Daniel Murphy singled. David Wright struck out on three pitches. He looked at an 81 mph slider, fouled off a 97 mph fastball, then looked at an 82 mph curveball.
Fernandez walked the next batter, Davis, giving the Mets runners at first and second, before getting Baxter to hit a chopper back to the mound that he gloved and threw to first for the final out.
“He was strike one on almost everybody. That’s pretty impressive for a young guy,’’ said Mets manager Terry Collins. “As soon as we got on second base he went from 94 to 96. When you’re a young guy with the ability like that to step it up, that’s impressive.’’
The Mets finally got to Fernandez in the fifth inning after Duda struck out. Tejada singled to left on a 3-2 slider. Anthony Recker followed with a double to score Tejada.
Fernandez then struck out Byrd for his eighth strikeout. Cowgill popped out to second base to end the inning.
Since 1916, only six other starting pitchers under age 21 struck out as many in their MLB debuts: Dave Morehead of the Red Sox (10 in 1963), Rudy May of the Angels (10 in 1965), Curt Simmons of the Phillies (nine in 1947), Denny McLain of the Tigers (eight in 1963), Gary Nolan of the Reds (eight in 1967) and David Clyde of the Rangers (eight in 1973), according to baseballreference.com.
Fernandez is in line to make his next start Saturday at Marlins Park against Philadelphia. The Marlins are bracing for small crowds this season, but that has nothing to do with why Fernandez called up, team president David Samson said.
“This was not anything other than a baseball decision,’’ he said. “This was not a marketing move by any stretch. This was, we need someone to take the ball Sunday and who’s the best candidate.”
Fernandez, who turns 21 on July 31, is the third-youngest Marlins player to make his debut after Miguel Cabrera (20 years, 63 days) and Giancarlo Stanton (20, 212).
UP NEXT: Atlanta Braves
Monday FSN Florida 7:10 p.m.
RHP Kevin Slowey (0-1, 1.69) vs LHP Paul Maholm (1-0, 0.00)
Comment: Slowey starts the Marlins’ home opener after allowing just a run in 5 1/3 innings in Washington on Tuesday in his first start.
Tuesday FSN Florida 7:10 p.m.
LHP Wade LeBlanc (0-1, 3.60) vs RHP Kris Medlen (0-1, 3.60)
Comment: Medlen was 2-0 with a 1.50 ERA in five starts against the Marlins in 2012. He struck out 22 marlins and walked three in 24 innings.
Wednesday FSN Florida 7:10 p.m.
RHP Alex Sanabia (1-0, 0.00) vs LHP Mike Minor (1-0. 1.23)
Comment: Sanabia gave the Marlins’ their first win of the season, allowing six hits in six scoreless innings in New York on Friday.