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Pepsi Thrill of the Game: Fernandez fired up for 2014

It won't just be a matchup of two up-and-coming pitching aces Saturday night when the Padres face the Marlins.

It will be power arm versus power arm.

The Padres will send their Opening Day starter, Andrew Cashner, to the mound for the second time this season as the Marlins counter with their own Opening Day starter, Jose Fernandez.

When Fernandez is on the mound, the Marlins feel something special can happen every time.

It did for the 21-year-old on Opening Night, in Miami's 10-1 win over the Rockies. Fernandez struck out nine and gave up one run in six innings.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Fernandez is the second pitcher to win on Opening Day after being named Rookie of the Year the previous season. John Montefusco was the other. In 1975, Montefusco won the NL Rookie of the Year Award, and he was a winner in the '76 opener.

"It doesn't surprise me," Marlins manager Mike Redmond said. "This kid is going to end up on a lot of lists throughout his career with a lot of great pitchers, the way he's going. Last year, with him winning the Rookie of the Year, it's just the start for this kid. I know we all feel so confident with him out there. He gives us a great chance to win. He's so hungry. That's the beauty of Jose, he wants it every single time he gets the ball."

Fernandez became only the second starting pitcher to post nine strikeouts and no walks on Opening Day in the last 16 seasons. Jered Weaver in 2012 was the other. Before Weaver, you have to go back to Mike Mussina in 1998, with nine strikeouts and no walks in an opener.

Cashner got a no-decision in Sunday's 3-1 victory over the Dodgers, as the Padres rallied for three runs in the eighth inning.

Cashner allowed one run on four hits in six innings, with two walks and five strikeouts. That two-seam fastball, which he got good results from in Spring Training was good at times, getting him seven groundball outs.

"I thought I executed well early in the game," Cashner said. "It [two-seamer] wasn't as good as it has been. I thought I've had better command of it in previous times. But it was still pretty good."

Cashner's strikeout-per-nine-inning rate dipped from 10.1 in 2012 to 6.6 last season, though he spent nearly all of 2012 as a reliever when he didn't have to worry about pace or pitch efficiency as much. A year ago, his first season as a starter, Cashner threw 175 innings and lowered his hits-per-nine innings from 7.8 to 6.0.

Padres: It's all about the 'U'
First baseman Yonder Alonso and catcher Yasmani Grandal each have ties to the Miami area as they went to high school in South Florida -- Alonso at Coral Gables High and Grandal at Miami Springs High -- and both played at the University of Miami.

Alonso and Grandal combined for three hits and one RBI in Friday's 8-2 loss to the Marlins.

Grandal and Alonso make up 29 percent (2-of-7) of the University of Miami's Major League presence, joining Chris Perez of the Dodgers, Ryan Braun of the Brewers, Gabby Sanchez of the Pirates, Danny Valencia of the Royals and Jon Jay of the Cardinals.

The Padres nearly had a third former Miami Hurricanes player make their 25-man Opening Day roster, but infielder Ryan Jackson was sent to Triple-A El Paso late in Spring Training.

Marlins: Yelich set to return
• Christian Yelich, who is 1-for-10 vs. LHP this year, did not start Friday night against lefty Eric Stults. But Yelich is expected to be back leading off and in left field Saturday night.

Worth noting
• After not appearing in the first two games of the season, Padres rookie reliever Donn Roach has pitched in the last two games. He allowed one run in 1 1/3 innings against the Dodgers on Wednesday and two runs in two innings in relief of Eric Stults on Friday against the Marlins. The Padres are carrying two long relievers -- Roach and Tim Stauffer. Comments