Jose settles down by pitching off fastball

April 13th, 2016

NEW YORK -- On a chilly night when it was a challenge simply throwing the baseball, Jose Fernandez was finally able to heat up. It took three innings, and a near long ball surrendered, but the 23-year-old right-hander was able to get his outing under control.

The results on Tuesday weren't vintage Fernandez, but his five strikeouts in five innings were crucial in the Marlins' 2-1 win over the Mets at Citi Field.

"It was hard to get a grip on the ball," Fernandez said. "I was trying to make a good pitch and trying to keep the boys in the game. The weather was rough, but you've got to battle. You've got to go out there and give your teammates a chance to win, every game."

Early, it looked like Fernandez had little to no chance of getting deep into the game. He labored in the first, allowing a double to Curtis Granderson and a walk to David Wright. Two batters later, Lucas Duda's RBI single put New York in front.

The second was also difficult, as Fernandez threw 29 pitches, upping his total to 51.

In the third, Yoenis Cespedes gave Fernandez a scare with a long drive that the wind appeared to hold up in left. Christian Yelich made the catch at the wall.

"I thought it was close," Fernandez said. "I saw Yelly going after it. That made me feel good."

Fernandez calmed himself from that point on, pitching more off his fastball and spotting it to both sides of the plate. The right-hander ended up retiring the final 10 batters he faced, capping his night with four straight strikeouts.

"Getting out of the second was huge for him, and for us, because they could have blown us apart right there and put us in trouble," manager Don Mattingly said.

Fernandez has had backup catcher Jeff Mathis to work with since his rookie 2013 season. Entering Tuesday night, the righty had posted a 1.95 ERA in 138 1/3 innings throwing to Mathis.

"I was just trying to follow what Mathis wanted, follow the game plan," Fernandez said. "I wasn't executing pitches early in the game. They're a good lineup. They're going to get after it."

Once he gained fastball command, Fernandez struck out Travis d'Arnaud on an 89 mph changeup to end the fourth inning. In the fifth, he struck out the side -- Noah Syndergaard (98 mph fastball), Granderson (84 mph curveball) and Wright (98 mph fastball).

"He did settle down, and I was really happy to see that," Mathis said. "He started throwing his fastball to both sides of the plate. That kind of opened up some other stuff."