MIAMI -- Nothing was going to stop Jose Fernandez in the Marlins' 6-1 statement win over the Cubs at Marlins Park on Sunday that capped a series victory against the best club in baseball.Not even a slightly bruised right hand he suffered on a foul ball Saturday that he had
MIAMI -- Nothing was going to stop Jose Fernandez in the Marlins' 6-1 statement win over the Cubs at Marlins Park on Sunday that capped a series victory against the best club in baseball.
Not even a slightly bruised right hand he suffered on a foul ball Saturday that he had to ice down.
"If it's broken, I'm pitching," Fernandez joked.
Fernandez yielded just one run and struck out 13 Cubs through seven innings in the series finale as Miami took three of four from Chicago. At 41-35, the Marlins are playing some of their best baseball all season and are now six games over .500 for the first time since June 2012. They're tied with the Dodgers for second place the National League Wild Card standings.
Needless to say, the players are excited.
"I was talking to a couple of my teammates, and I go, 'We just beat the best team in baseball,'" Fernandez said after the win. "We know this. That tells us nothing is impossible."
Marlins manager Don Mattingly said Fernandez, knowing the stakes, had a different look in his eye for this game.
"Josie looked like early on, you got a feeling that he was on a mission to show that club over there what kind of pitcher he was," he said. "It just looked like early, he was focused. He's always focused, but it was a little less dramatic. It's always energy, but it seemed like it was a little narrower focus with him today."
Much of the credit for the club's success halfway through the season has to be given to Mattingly, who's pressed all the right buttons in his first season as Miami's manager. Fernandez said he and Mattingly's communication has contributed to their successes.
"You feel a special kind of trust," he said. "That's hard to get. And when you actually get that, that's what makes a good team."
When Fernandez walked off the mound with 96 pitches after the sixth inning Sunday, Mattingly put his trust in his ace to deliver one more lights-out inning. He struck out two in the 12-pitch seventh.
"He looked a little weary in the sixth," Mattingly said. "I told him he looked tired, and I think that made him mad. He obviously wanted to show me he wasn't tired in the seventh."
With the win, Fernandez reached the 10-win mark for the first time in a season since his 2013 NL Rookie of the Year Award campaign. The 23-year-old also set the club record for most strikeouts before the All-Star break Sunday (138).
Miami still has a long season ahead of it with 12 games to go until the All-Star break, but Fernandez and his teammates are enjoying the moment.
"Our guys are just playing like magic," Fernandez said. "It's just so beautiful to watch."
A little lost in the series win is that Marcell Ozuna did not play the final two games. The outfielder, who leads the club in numerous offensive categories, has been dealing with a sore left wrist for about a week. It's the same wrist he sprained sliding into a base in a Triple-A game last year.
Mattingly said he wanted to give Ozuna plenty of time to rest with the off-day Monday before a nine-game road trip. Ozuna's status for Tuesday is still up in the air.
"Honestly, I'm still not going to fit a square peg in a round hole," Mattingly said. "If he's not ready to go on that day, then he's gonna sit there again until we get him right. We're in it for the long haul."
Patrick Pinak is a reporter for MLB.com based in Miami.