Before his Friday start against the Indians, Jose Fernandez entertained a young fan in the Marlins’ clubhouse, introducing the visitor to the players and staff, and even taking pictures with him on the field.
It would have been easy to forget Fernandez was scheduled to start against Cleveland in a couple hours. So he made his outing a memorable one.
Fernandez dominated the Indians and carried the Marlins to a 10-0 win. The 21-year-old Cuban phenom threw eight shutout innings, striking out 14 while allowing only three hits.
“He was on a mission today,” manager Mike Redmond said. “He went out there and just really dominated. His command was phenomenal. I told him, ‘Hey, you might have finished that game if you didn’t walk the pitcher.’ ”
Fernandez became the first NL Rookie with at least four 10-or-more strikeout games since 2006, when Cole Hamels did it for the Phillies. His 14 punch-outs were the most for a rookie since Stephen Strasburg’s 14 for the Nationals in 2010. Fernandez now has 27 strikeouts in his last two starts
The Marlins backed up their starter with some timely hitting and help from the Indians’ defense in the first three innings.
In the bottom of the first, Ed Lucas drew a one-out walk and moved to second when Cleveland shortstop Azdrubal Cabrera fumbled a potential double-play ball from Giancarlo Stanton. After a wild pitch moved up the runners, Logan Morrison brought home Lucas on an RBI double.
Donovan Solano followed with an RBI groundout, and then Adeiny Hechevarria entered the action with an RBI single.
In the second, Christian Yelich sliced his first career triple into right field and came home on a Morrison single. Cabrera picked up his second error on a similar grounder to short, but the Marlins did not capitalize.
In the third, Jake Marisnick stole third after a leadoff double, and then Fernandez helped his own cause with a sacrifice fly to bring home Marisnick. With a 5-0 lead, the Marlins tacked on five in the eighth, including a two-run triple from Morrison.
“We put together a lot of good at-bats,” Redmond said. “Guys were excited. We haven’t had a whole lot of these nights.”
Morrison attributed his 4-of-5 night at the plate to better luck.
“I felt good,” Morrison said. “I feel like I’ve been swinging the bat alright, they’ve just been finding leather.”
The offensive barrage chased Indians’ starter Ubaldo Jiminez early. He threw 107 pitches in just four innings, of which only 64 were strikes. The former Rockies’ hurler allowed nine hits in addition to his two walks, and never regained his form after the first inning.
But the story of the game was Fernandez, who became the first Marlins pitcher with more 10 or more strikeouts in back-to-back starts since Ricky Nolasco in 2008. When Fernandez left the field, the announced crowd of 17,731 showered him with a standing ovation.
“It’s so much fun, every pitch for me,” Fernandez said. “The fans have just been incredible. The way you treat them with love and you get a lot of love back, that’s just amazing. For me, the fans are as important as the game.”