Fernandez, bullpen shut out Nationals
MIAMI -- Jose Fernandez came off the disabled list on Saturday and promptly placed himself in the record book. The 23-year-old struck out seven in five shutout innings in the Marlins' 2-0 win over the Nationals at Marlins Park.
The victory improved Fernandez to 16-0 in his career at Marlins Park. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the right-hander is just the third pitcher since 1900 to open his career 16-0 at home. Fernandez joins LaMarr Hoyt (1980-82) and Johnny Allen (1932-33) in accomplishing the feat.
"Tremendous job," Marlins manager Dan Jennings said. "He brings excitement every time he goes out on the mound. You know you've got a chance to see something special. Just the way he competes. It was good to watch him attacking the strike zone. His stuff was as good as we've seen all year, up to 99."
Fernandez's success adds to the Nationals' struggles, as they've lost five straight games to fall to 9 1/2 games behind the Mets in the National League East. Fernandez (5-0, 2.06) showed little rust in his return from a right biceps strain, which kept him on the disabled list since Aug. 11.
"I don't think the effort slacked at all," Nationals manager Matt Williams said. "Tonight is the example of a really good pitcher who we just couldn't get anything going against. The bench is lively, the guys are loose and excited before the game to go play. The results haven't been there, but I think the effort and attitude is good."
J.T. Realmuto put the Marlins on the board with an RBI single off Tanner Roark in the fourth inning. And in the sixth inning, Justin Bour drove in Miami's second run with a single off Sammy Solis.
The Marlins have won nine of 11 and four straight series.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Good as new: Results aside, the most encouraging news of the night for the Marlins was the fact Fernandez made it through five innings at 69 pitches. Most importantly, he felt fine afterwards.That wasn't the case on Aug. 7 at Atlanta, when he experienced right shoulder discomfort, which landed him on the disabled list. Fernandez was in the most trouble in a 21-pitch first inning. He issued a leadoff single to Anthony Rendon and a two-out walk to Jayson Werth. The threat ended when Ian Desmond lifted a fly ball to center. From there, he allowed one baserunner -- a Harper single in the fourth -- before he was removed for a pinch-hitter in the fifth.
"Walking off the mound healthy is always great," Fernandez said. "That's what I work for. That's what I love to do. I'm just lucky to be out there, trying to get some outs." More >
New lineup, same result: For the second straight night, the Nationals' offense struggled -- even with a shakeup in the lineup. After third baseman Yunel Escobar was a late scratch from the contest with stomach sickness, Anthony Rendon moved from second to third, while Danny Espinosa started at second base and replaced Escobar in the order. Also, Werth, who had been leading off, moved to the cleanup spot, while Rendon and Espinosa hit 1-2 in the order. Still, the offense was ineffective vs. Fernandez and the Marlins' bullpen, producing just three hits and being shut out a night after it scored one run and left nine runners on-base.
"When you got Jose out there in this building, he's pretty tough to beat," Williams said. "But knowing he was going to go short, we had a couple chances, but they didn't give us many tonight."
Lazo gets Harper: Once Fernandez was replaced, the Nationals had a chance in the sixth inning. Kyle Barraclough walked pinch-hitter Trea Turner to lead off the inning, who advanced to third with two outs. Rookie lefty Raudel Lazo entered to face Harper. With Miami leading 1-0 at the time, and the tying run on third, Lazo got Harper to lift a fly ball to right.
"He's not afraid to throw the ball over the plate," Jennings said. "Harper is having an MVP-type season. When you test him, let's test him against the best. That's a pretty good test, and he passed." More >
Harper's cannon: With no outs in the fourth inning, Harper helped turn a potentially big Marlins inning into just a one-run frame. With runners on first and second, Justin Bour hit a deep fly ball to the base of the right-field wall, which Harper settled under. He then unleashed a perfect laser throw to shortstop Ian Desmond, who tossed the ball to Danny Espinosa at second to get Martin Prado attempting to tag up from first base. Officially, the play was scored as a 9-6-4 double play. More >
"I'm not thinking about it. I don't know if anybody else in this clubhouse is. But you just have to play the game. You have to play ball and go out there and worry about what we can control." -- Harper, when asked if the team is still reeling from being swept by the Mets to begin the week
"You see, when he pitches, the team is different, it seems like. He brings something to this team that nobody can explain. Certain people have that factor, and he's one of those guys. It's uplifting for the team." -- Marlins closer A.J. Ramos, on Fernandez's presence
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Ichiro Suzuki had three hits, giving him 2,930 MLB hits. The 41-year-old is now 70 shy of the 3,000 plateau.
A heads-up play by Desmond ended up paying off for the Nationals in the fifth inning. Washington challenged Desmond's throw to Rendon at third as Tomas Telis made a wide turn around third. Third-base umpire Ron Kulpa ruled Telis safe, but after a review of two-minutes, 17-seconds the call was overturned. So rather than Miami having first-and-third with one out on Christian Yelich's fielder's choice. The Nationals turned the double play, 1-6-5.
Nationals: Max Scherzer (11-11, 3.03 ERA) tries to get back on track in the series finale at 1:10 p.m. ET on Sunday. Since the All-Star break, Scherzer is 1-4 with a 5.15 ERA.
Marlins: The Marlins wrap up their nine-game homestand, and three-game set with Washington at 1:10 p.m. ET on Sunday. Lefty Brad Hand (4-5, 5.20) seeks his first career win over the Nationals, a team he is 0-6 (7.96) against.
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