Fernandez, Marlins blank Padres, secure series
Ace goes 6 2/3 frames of three-hit ball; Stanton adds two to RBI total
MIAMI -- Only a pitch limit slowed Jose Fernandez down on Saturday night.
Fernandez struck out eight in 6 2/3 scoreless innings, and Giancarlo Stanton drove in two runs to power the Marlins to a 5-0 victory over the Padres in front of 35,188 at Marlins Park.
Behind yet another impressive showing by Fernandez, the Marlins were able to beat the Padres for the second straight night. They will go for a series sweep on Sunday in the conclusion of their impressive seven-game homestand.
"Another outstanding job," manager Mike Redmond said. "The excitement in the stadium again today was similar to Opening Night, seeing people in the upper deck. Not just Jose, but seeing other guys feed off it, it was nice to see the energy and the excitement. It really started in batting practice. I'm glad we were able to go out there and put on another good show and pick up the win."
Like he did on Opening Night against the Rockies, Fernandez was in complete control as he improved to 2-0. After being subjected to an innings limit during his 2013 National League Rookie of the Year campaign, Fernandez was extended to close to 110 pitches on Saturday. He actually reached 108 when he was lifted by Redmond with two outs in the seventh.
In the opener, Fernandez was lifted after six innings and 94 pitches because the Marlins had a big lead.
Ideally, the club would have liked for Fernandez to finish off the seventh, and he just about did because he struck out Alexi Amarista with two outs. However, the ball skipped away from catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, enabling Amarista to reach.
So A.J. Ramos was brought in, and the reliever struck out Rene Rivera to end the inning.
"We wanted Jose to try to finish that inning," Redmond said. "We wanted to extend him a little bit more so he is able to go 105-110 down the road. But that was about the max. That was pushing it."
Fernandez's pitch count was run up early, to 56 through three innings, but he was able to get some quick outs in the fourth and fifth. He was victimized by a bad-bounce single by Chase Headley in the first inning on a ball that popped up and wasn't handled by second baseman Derek Dietrich. And in the second inning, Amarista reached on Dietrich's throwing error.
When he was taken out in the seventh, Fernandez understood, but he always wants to stay out there for more.
"That's who I am. I like to keep pitching," the 21-year-old right-hander said. "I'm feeling great. The bullpen did a great job, like always."
The Marlins managed enough offense against Padres ace Andrew Cashner, who gave up two runs on five hits with six strikeouts in six innings. It was a well-pitched game between two aces. Afterward, Cashner praised Fernandez.
"His slider comes out of the same arm slot [as his fastball]," the Padres right-hander said. "Everything he throws comes out of the same arm slot. He's got some of the best stuff in all of baseball."
The Marlins' offense was able to break the game open in the late innings. The club entered the game with a Major League-leading 15 doubles, and it added three more.
Stanton drove in two runs on a single and double. Dietrich and Christian Yelich each added RBI singles, and Reed Johnson had a sacrifice fly.
"Another win, it was incredible," Fernandez said. "Salty behind the plate, calling everything perfect. The guys are hitting. The guys behind me are making great plays. I'm really excited we got another win."
But the beautiful South Florida night belonged to Fernandez, who improved to 11-0 with a 1.14 ERA in 17 career starts at Marlins Park.
At 108 pitches, Fernandez finished one pitch shy of his career high of 109, set on Aug. 19, 2013, against the Dodgers.
"It was just like Opening Night," Saltalamacchia said. "Really pounding the strike zone. The slider was so effective. Guys knew it was coming, and it was still pretty tough to lay off of. I know he wanted to finish that inning. But with a bullpen like ours, he could hand it off."
San Diego had Fernandez on the ropes in the third inning, but it took the 21-year-old just one pitch to get out of the jam. The chance for a big inning for the Padres was erased when Seth Smith tapped into a 4-6-3 double play.
Boosted by the big defensive play, the Marlins carried the momentum to the plate, and they got on the board on Stanton's RBI single that deflected off the glove of Headley at third. Stanton was in a position to drive in his 10th run of the season because Yelich worked a two-out walk.
In the sixth inning, Dietrich added some insurance with a two-out RBI single to right field, scoring Garrett Jones, who drew a one-out walk.
The Marlins are enjoying their best start since 2009, their last winning season. Consider that a year ago, they didn't achieve their fifth win until their 21st game.
Now they have a chance for a series sweep and a 6-1 opening homestand.
"Before the season started, I said the relationships are different," Fernandez said. "It's amazing. The guys are coming to the field every day, they want to play. They want to win ballgames. That's all you can ask for, guys giving 100 percent."