Fernandez makes final case for All-Star start
MIAMI -- Jose Fernandez was determined to end his first half on a good note, and he put the exclamation mark on it in the Marlins' 3-1 win over the Reds on Friday at Marlins Park.
In addition to winning his 11th game, Fernandez may have staked a claim to start the All-Star Game presented by MasterCard. He delivered seven strong innings, surrendering just one unearned run while striking out eight. It was exactly the sort of bounce-back outing he needed after the Braves pummeled him for a career-high nine runs (six earned) in 5 2/3 innings his previous start.
"There was a lot of things to work on from last start," Fernandez said. "A lot of adjustments to be made. I think we made a couple. There's still a lot of work to be done."
Unsure of how he'll be used in the Midsummer Classic, Fernandez said he'll be ready to give National League manager Terry Collins however many innings he needs.
"If they ask me to [pitch], I'm ready," Fernandez said.
In his last start before heading to San Diego for the Midsummer Classic, Fernandez needed just 93 pitches to get through seven frames. Outside of an Adam Duvall RBI single in the fourth inning and a fifth-inning jam he pitched out of, he didn't face much trouble.
"He has a different gear when he needs an out," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "That's what makes great pitchers special.
"We had a couple situations where putting a ball in play would have gotten us a run, and we weren't able to do it simply because his stuff was so good, and he found that extra gear."
Fernandez knew early in the game he had his mojo.
"I came back in the second inning and I told [pitching coach] Juan [Nieves], 'Hey, man, I feel like I can put the ball wherever I want today.'" Fernandez said. "That's a good feeling. That doesn't really happen often."
Fernandez capped quite the first half with the victory. His 11 wins before the break are one shy of his career most in a season and are second in franchise history to Dontrelle Willis' 13 first-half wins in 2005.
His 2.52 ERA also ranks among the top 10 in the Majors among qualified pitchers. Fernandez's 154 strikeouts before the break are second to only Washington's Max Scherzer, who has 155.
But as the Midsummer Classic quickly approaches, Fernandez said it doesn't feel like his first half is over yet.
"Honestly, I don't feel like I'm going into the break right now, because I'm not," Fernandez said. "I'm gonna be doing the same thing. It feels good to finish the first half here at home and get a win."