CINCINNATI -- Skipping a start certainly caused José Fernández to be fresh on Thursday night, and that was clear against the first batter the 24-year-old faced. On his fifth pitch of the game, Fernandez hummed a fastball that Pitch/Fx clocked at 99.4 mph.The result, however, typified the frustrating night, as
CINCINNATI -- Skipping a start certainly caused José Fernández to be fresh on Thursday night, and that was clear against the first batter the 24-year-old faced. On his fifth pitch of the game, Fernandez hummed a fastball that Pitch/Fx clocked at 99.4 mph.
The result, however, typified the frustrating night, as Billy Hamilton singled sharply. It was that kind of game for Fernandez and the Marlins, who fell, 5-4, to the Reds in the series finale at Great American Ball Park.
"He had velocity, for sure," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. "They were, obviously, squaring a lot of stuff up, it seemed like. Even the outs."
Fernandez also was pounding the zone, throwing a lot of strikes, but his fastball command was off, and the Reds did some early damage, scoring five runs -- three coming on Ramón Cabrera's home run in the second inning.
"We took advantage of some of the early strikes he threw in the count and didn't get deep in the count because he has the paralyzing slider," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "But you know what? He's throws 100 [mph], too. It's not like he was a guy who was 'oh well,' and easing it in there and don't get to two strikes because of the slider."
In four innings, Fernandez gave up five runs on seven hits. He struck out six and became just the sixth pitcher in franchise history to top 200 in a season. Now with 204, the ace is on the brink of breaking Ryan Dempster's team record of 209 strikeouts in 2000.
The four innings also marked Fernandez's shortest start since April 11, 2014, at Philadelphia, when he also went four.
"He took me out with  pitches," Fernandez said of Mattingly. "Is it an outing? Obviously, I'm very disappointed with the way I came out today and how I let my team down and my teammates down. That's a more important part for me."
Fernandez said he was "very surprised" to be lifted for a pinch-hitter in the fifth inning.
"I am not the manager, he is," Fernandez said. "He gets to decide what is going on in the game. That's not my job. My job is to pitch when they let me and come out of the game when they tell me to."
Based on the score and the fact the Marlins had Adeiny Hechavarria on first and one out, Mattingly opted to go with pinch-hitter Robert Andino.
"We're down five runs at that point," Mattingly said. "Outs just keep getting smaller and smaller. If we had two out and nobody on, I would have let him hit. But when we get one guy on, we've got to try to score. As you see, we end up being one down."
Fernandez is going through one of the toughest stretches of his career. In his last four starts since July 28, he has a 6.00 ERA. In 21 innings, he has struck out 29, but he's also given up 27 hits.
"Unfortunately, I didn't give my team a chance to win today," Fernandez said. "I'm not happy about that."
Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.