Twins second baseman Brian Dozier had chances to speak with Jose Fernandez when the Twins met in interleague play, spring training and the 2015 All-Star Game in Cincinnati.
"I met Jose numerous times," Dozier said. "A great guy. A tremendous competitor."
Dozier was stunned to learn on Sunday that Fernandez, the ace of the Marlins and one of the young stars of the game, had died early Sunday in a boating accident off Miami Beach. Fernandez and two other men were killed when the 32-foot boat they were traveling in struck a jetty and ended upside down.
The Twins held a moment of silence before their game, as a few fans gasped in surprise when Fernandez's death was announced. The Twins hung a jersey with Fernandez's name and number in their dugout.
Both Dozier and manager Paul Molitor spoke of how the Cuban-born Fernandez tried to defect three times before finally making it to the United States.
"There's no question about this guy's reputation of character and energy and passion — and the difficulties he had to overcome to find his way over here and play — those are all resonating very strongly and clearly today," Molitor said.
It was a sad day for baseball.
"It's tough," Dozier said. "Just a great guy. Full of energy."
Nelson Cruz was the show Sunday.
He busted his bat in the second inning, a piece of it flying toward the hole at short. He was given a replacement bat and bashed the next pitch into the second deck in left. The 430-foot blast tied the score 1-1.
Cruz batted again in the sixth and injured himself while taking a mighty rip at a Hector Santiago pitch. He needed a couple of minutes to be checked out by trainers but stayed in the game and bashed the next pitch into the seats in left for another home run that gave Seattle a 4-2 lead.
"I've had some success in the past pitching him in," Santiago said. "I threw a breaking ball, which I never got it in and he got it. When he's going good he's hard to get out. He's just a good hitter all-around."
Cruz finished with four home runs, two doubles and eight RBI in the series. He has 41 home runs, the third time in his career he's hit at least 40 in a season and 14th time in Mariners history.
Most of the game was played without plate umpire Jerry Layne, who took a foul ball off the mask in the first inning and staggered away. He might have tumbled if Twins catcher Juan Centeno hadn't grabbed his left arm, with Seattle's Robinson Cano, the batter at the time, grabbing him around his waist.
"He was going down," Centeno said.
The game was delayed for about five minutes as Twins trainers checked on him. "He was saying that he felt like he was going to get sick," Centeno said.
Layne, who also is the crew chief, eventually left the field and was said to have symptoms of a concussion. That left a three-man crew to work the rest of the game. Hunter Wendelstedt took over at home plate.