Padres can't produce behind Cashner vs. Fernandez
Friars held to three singles against ace; righty solid over six innings
MIAMI -- For those fleeting occasions Saturday when Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez actually appeared vulnerable, Seth Smith bucked conventional wisdom by going hunting for a fastball.
It was the third inning and the Padres loaded the bases on a hit and consecutive walks to Will Venable and Chase Headley, as each resisted the urge to chase pitches just beyond the strike zone.
Fernandez wasn't exactly scuffling, but Smith hedged his bet that he'd get a pitch to hit. In that sense, he was absolutely correct.
But the one time the Padres stressed Fernandez dissipated quickly into another missed opportunity, as Fernandez got a first-pitch, double-play ball to end the inning -- and essentially any hope that the Padres could inflict damage to Fernandez and the Marlins.
In the end, Fernandez struck out eight over 6 2/3 scoreless innings as the surging Marlins hung a 5-0 loss on the Padres in front of a crowd of 35,188 at Marlins Park.
"That inning was big," Fernandez said.
San Diego's Andrew Cashner, who allowed one run in six innings on Opening Day, was good again, as he allowed two runs over six frames with three walks and six strikeouts. But the margin for error for these Padres, on Saturday and in this young season, has been reduced to nearly nothing.
Smith took a shot early and it didn't work out.
"He threw me a changeup away and I didn't recognize it well enough," Smith said. "I put a terrible swing on it."
Even after the walks to Venable and Headley, manager Bud Black lauded Smith's aggressive tact in that at-bat, knowing that the Padres (1-4) might not get Fernandez in a tight spot again.
"Seth's an aggressive hitter," Black said. "He was going after a strike. It was a changeup that out of the hand probably looked like a fastball. I liked the aggressive swing on a ball in the strike zone."
But there weren't nearly enough of those against Fernandez and the Marlins (5-1), as the Padres had but five hits in the game. They've been outscored 22-8 this season and have scored a total of five runs in the last four games.
"That [Smith's at-bat] was an opportunity right there to get us on the board. It just didn't happen. We've got to swing the bats better," Black said.
There was nothing wrong with the pitching, as Cashner had his sinker, slider and changeup all working, especially early on, as he struck out four of the first seven Marlins batters. On one occasion, his four-seam fastball was clocked at 98 mph.
"It's that humidity," he said smiling. "It gets that ball going a little bit."
Cashner (0-1) allowed an RBI single to Giancarlo Stanton in the third inning as the ball glanced off of the glove of third baseman Chase Headley and skipped into shallow left field. The last run Cashner allowed came in his last inning, as Derek Dietrich jumped on a two-out curveball up for an RBI single.
"I thought I threw the ball real well," Cashner said. "I had a couple of walks that could have gone either way. I think in those spots, you've got to make good pitches."
Fernandez (2-0) certainly did, especially after that third inning. Beginning with the Smith double-play ball, he retired 13 of the final 14 hitters he faced.
"I thought overall we had some decent at-bats. He was tough on the right-handed hitters," Black said. "The breaking ball below the zone to the lefties gave us trouble. We didn't back off him, made him work a little bit. He sort of found a groove in the fifth and sixth."
Cashner was asked what made Fernandez so good.
"His slider comes out of the same arm slot [as his fastball]. Everything he throws comes out of the same arm slot," Cashner said. "He's got some of the best stuff in all of baseball."
Even the Padres' bullpen, which had performed so well in the early going, had a rough night. After that group allowed four earned runs in 15 innings going into Saturday's game, Dale Thayer and Joaquin Benoit combined to allow three runs.
Thayer, who came in for the seventh inning after Cashner's departure, allowed a run. Benoit followed by allowed two runs on three hits while getting two batters out in the eighth inning.
Last season with the Tigers, Benoit only allowed two or more earned runs in two of his 66 appearances.