Martin dedicates big performance to Fernandez

Mariners center fielder was childhood friends with Marlins star pitcher

Martin dedicates big performance to Fernandez

HOUSTON -- For Leonys Martin, this win carried a little something extra. And not just because he had three hits, three runs and a pair of stolen bases as the Mariners kept a postseason bid in their sights with a 12-4 victory over the Astros on Wednesday.

This one, the 28-year-old Cuban said, was for his childhood friend, Jose Fernandez.

"He's in my heart," Martin said of the Marlins star pitcher, who died Sunday in a boating accident in Miami. "I lost a dear friend. We were great friends. I've known Jose since we were 8 years old. For me, it's really tough. I can't explain that. But this is one of my best games of the year, and I'd like to dedicate it to my boy. I still love him. I love my boy."

Martin, one of three Cuban players on the Mariners, was hit hard by the news of Fernandez's death when he arrived to the ballpark on Sunday in Minnesota. Martin played that day, then buried his head in his hands in his locker after the game.

"That's a very difficult thing," said teammate Kyle Seager. "You're talking about somebody he was close friends with. That's hard. It's hard for everybody in this game because [Fernandez] has made such a huge impact, but for Leonys personally to continue to bring the energy -- you saw the first game in Minnesota, it was really difficult for him.

"He's done a great job of bringing energy and life all year for us. [Fernandez's death] is still something he's talking about. He's the heart of this team. He's the life of this team. He's been huge for us."

Martin's sliding catch

Martin reached base four times in Wednesday's win, with a walk and three singles. He became just the seventh player in Mariners history with three hits, three runs, two stolen bases and an RBI in the same game, and the first since Ichiro Suzuki in 2011.

"Leonys Martin played an unbelievable game, on the bases, defensively, three knocks," said manager Scott Servais. "He was awesome."

And Servais understood what this game meant to the emotional center fielder.

"He has been our vocal leader all year long in the dugout, jumping around and whatnot," Servais said. "And with everything that happened in Miami a few days ago, that was really hard on him. He knows exactly where that whole accident happened.

"It's taken him a little while to work through it. You've seen a number of guys around the league respond in a very positive way, and certainly it was great to see that out of Leonys today."

For Martin, it helps to be surrounded by a supportive team. And he intends to do everything he can to help that team make the postseason.

"We're in this together," Martin said. "It's not about four or five guys, it's about everybody. We're fighting to get in the playoffs because of everybody in here. We've got to keep doing it, pushing like a team, to get to the point we want to get."

Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.