MIAMI -- No matter if he is on the mound or watching from the dugout, Jose Fernandez's emotions range from carefree and loose to total intensity and in control.Matched against hard-throwing Gerrit Cole on Tuesday night, the 23-year-old needed to be locked in, and he was in the Marlins' 3-1
MIAMI -- No matter if he is on the mound or watching from the dugout, Jose Fernandez's emotions range from carefree and loose to total intensity and in control.
Matched against hard-throwing Gerrit Cole on Tuesday night, the 23-year-old needed to be locked in, and he was in the Marlins' 3-1 win over the Pirates in a brilliant pitchers' duel.
On point, Fernandez scattered three hits and struck out six over seven shutout innings. For the first time in 11 starts, he didn't walk a batter.
But victory wasn't that simple. In the ninth inning, the right-hander watched closer A.J. Ramos enter with a three-run lead, but load the bases with no outs. Ramos ended up allowing just one run.
"It's always fun to see the guys battling," Fernandez said. "To have that feeling in the dugout, you're wanting to go out and compete and give everything we have."
Ramos secured the save, his 16th in as many chances, by getting Starling Marte on a lazy fly ball to right.
"I'm with A.J., no matter what," Fernandez said. "He's proven it to me. He's proven it to this team. Whatever it is, I'm going to have his back, whatever the result is, because he has mine."
After the Marlins dropped the series opener on Monday, Fernandez once again proved he is one of the top pitchers in the game.
"He's a fun kid to be around because of his energy," Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. "He just loves to pitch."
All the ranges of emotions came into play on this night for Fernandez. He was composed on the mound, yet was his usually fiery self after some big strikeouts.
"I'm sure he's a guy that gets under the skin sometimes of the other club," Mattingly said. "But from our side, just his attitude to pitching and competing, it's really special to watch."
The performances since mid-April have been nothing short of spectacular. Fernandez finished May at 6-0, matching Chris Hammond (6-0 in June 1993) for the most wins in a month by a Marlin. In his last seven starts, Fernandez is 7-0 with a 1.60 ERA.
"He had his stuff. Very unpredictable off the mound," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "Fastball plays big. We knew going in the first time through it was about a 70-30 split of hard and soft. The first time through, he went about 50-50 and stayed that way. Very unpredictable throughout the game."
Fernandez reflected Hurdle's comments by using his whole arsenal. According to Statcast™, his four-seam fastball averages 95.80 mph, well above the league average of 92.73 mph.
For a hitter, figuring out what is coming also is difficult. Per Fangraphs.com, Fernandez throws his fastball 55.3 percent of the time, his slider 23.8 percent, curveball 7.9 percent and changeup 13 percent.
"He's just a kid that's pitching," Mattingly said. "A kid you see is using his changeup more. He's working it all the time, working on different elements on just pitching."
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.