Fernandez hurls, hits, hands Marlins series win
Rook scatters three hits over seven scoreless, adds two hits, RBI, run
MIAMI -- Rebounding from his roughest outing, Jose Fernandez was simply at his best on Saturday afternoon.
The 20-year-old was masterful over seven shutout innings, striking out eight and setting the tone in the Marlins' 8-1 win over the Mets at Marlins Park.
Five days after giving up seven runs (four earned) in 3 1/3 innings vs. Tampa Bay, Fernandez showed why he is regarded as a future ace. If he strings together a few more starts like this one, the rookie could make a case to be the Marlins' representative at the All-Star Game.
"We talked about how he would respond after the Tampa game, and I felt confident that he would come out and pitch great," Marlins manager Mike Redmond said. "He's been able to bounce back after a tough start and be great. And he was again today."
Said Fernandez: "There [is] a lot of stuff that I've got to learn at this level, because the games here, they are more intense here. In two innings, they're winning 15-10. It's just a fast go. You can look back, and you've given up 10 runs in two minutes.
"I was a little upset, like I should be. But the next day was a new day. I am pretty happy about how I came back the next day to get my work done and get ready for my next start."
Fernandez was in control against the Mets, completely shutting down their lineup during the latter half of his outing. He retired the final 11 batters he faced, seven of them on strikeouts.
"He's really developing as a pitcher," catcher Jeff Mathis said. "All the talent is there. We see that. His demeanor, he has a very good idea of what he wants to do and how to do it, for a 20-year-old. That's probably what impresses me the most: The idea that he has about what to do to different guys -- along with a 96-mph fastball at the knees."
By beating the Mets in back-to-back games, the Marlins have claimed their second series victory of the season. Their previous one was when they took two of three -- also against the Mets -- from April 29-May 1 at Marlins Park.
Fernandez also chipped in at the plate with an RBI single, a double and a run scored.
"It really makes things worse when he gets a couple of hits, too," Redmond joked. "We're going to have to hear that for the next five days. He won't be talking about how he pitched, but the fact that he got a couple of hits."
Chris Coghlan had three singles and two RBIs, Derek Dietrich delivered two hits and two RBIs and Mathis added a run-scoring triple.
Coghlan's three-hit showing improved his hitting streak to eight games. In his past 14 games, Coghlan is batting .360 (18-for-50) with six RBIs, raising his batting average from .206 to .278.
But rookie Marcell Ozuna failed to extend his 16-game hitting streak (longest active in the Majors), finishing 0-for-3 with a walk. Ozuna's hitting streak is the second-longest by a Marlins rookie, falling six games short of Edgar Renteria's 22-game hitting streak in 1996.
"It was a good day offensively," Redmond said. "I'm mostly happy with the effort of the guys running the balls, taking extra bases."
Getting the timely two-out hit has been a struggle for the Marlins all season. They entered Saturday batting .218 -- ranked 21st in the Majors -- with runners in scoring position and two outs.
In the first inning, Coghlan provided a clutch hit with two outs, delivering an RBI single to center to give Miami a 1-0 lead. Placido Polanco scored from second, crossing the plate right before Derek Dietrich was tagged out trying to advance from first to third on the base hit.
"[He was] running hard all the way around the bases, running through home plate on a bang-bang play at third," Redmond said of Polanco. "If he lets up there, we don't get that run, and that's a big play. That kind of set the tone."
The Marlins received another key two-out hit in the second inning to pad their lead to two runs. Mathis walked with two outs and Fernandez ripped a liner into the left-field gap. Fernandez didn't attempt to advance to second, and he collected a single as Mathis raced home from first.
Miami tacked on two more runs in the fourth inning, and Mathis made a big impact in the inning. Successive singles by Coghlan and Greg Dobbs to open the frame put runners on the corners, and Adeiny Hechavarria lifted a sacrifice fly to center field. Mathis' triple to right-center made it 4-0.
Mets right-hander Collin McHugh was lifted after four-plus innings, giving up four runs on six hits.
The Marlins' offense peaked in the seventh, tallying four runs on four hits. The final run came with two outs on a Hechavarria single that scored Ozuna from second.
While Fernandez received plenty of run support during his stellar outing, the best support he received in his fist home win came from his mother, who flew to Miami from Tampa to watch her son pitch.
"I woke up early and picked her up, and we ate lunch together and she was here," Fernandez said. "Anytime I get to see my family, it makes me really happy."