He might not have many starts left before the Marlins pull the plug on his rookie season, but Jose Fernandez hasn’t stopped serving notice that even if he doesn’t pitch deep into September, he’s worthy of some hardware at season’s end.
He also hasn’t stopped having fun.
The 21-year-old Cuban right-hander snagged a line drive off the bat of All-Star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki in the first, laid down a surprise bunt he nearly beat out in the fifth, and tossed seven scoreless innings Saturday night to earn his 10th win of the season. The 3-0 victory over the visiting Rockies snapped the Marlins’ losing streak at four games.
“Jose just goes out there and literally has fun,” said Marlins center fielder Christian Yelich, who got the first of four Marlins hits. “Then he goes out there and gives us seven strong innings on top of it. That’s all you can ask for.”
A crowd of 23,333 at Marlins Park was treated to another Fernandez home victory. How good has Fernandez been at home this year? Well, nobody in the majors has been better.
In 13 home starts this season, Fernandez has posted a 7-0 record and major-league-leading 1.29 ERA, and has not allowed more than two earned runs in any of those starts. Since going to the All-Star Game in July, Fernandez is 5-0 with a 1.33 ERA, 66 strikeouts and only 14 walks including a 3-0 record with a 0.82 ERA in August.
“He just continues to go out there and pitch outstanding, keep us in the ball game and give us a chance to win,” Marlins manager Mike Redmond said. “For our offense, we obviously haven’t scored a lot of runs lately, and he shut them out, which was huge.”
The Marlins got all the offense they needed in the fourth against Rockies right-hander Jeff Manship (0-4, 6.86 ERA). Giancarlo Stanton opened with a double and then scored when Ed Lucas stroked a one-out single down the third-base line. Adeiny Hechavarria followed with a triple to center to make it 2-0 before Jake Marisnick drove in the Marlins shortstop with a sacrifice fly to right.
Steve Cishek pitched the ninth and picked up his 23rd consecutive save, the third-longest streak in the majors.
But the story was Fernandez, who shared a laugh with Tulowitzki when he snatched his line drive out of the air in the first and then tipped his cap when Todd Helton got the last of the Rockies’ four hits in the seventh. Fernandez struck out eight and walked none.
The only time he didn’t make his manager happy was when he laid down a bunt in the fifth. It’s a play Fernandez said he has been working on.
“I don’t know what he was thinking,” Redmond said. “He’s not going to be flying down the line anymore.”
Fernandez — who leads all major-league rookie starters with a 2.30 ERA and ranks third among all starters behind the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw (1.72) and Mets’ Matt Harvey (2.25) — doesn’t know when the Marlins are going to shut him down for sure. But with 152 2/3 innings logged so far this season, it’s likely his last start won’t slide past Sept.10, when the Marlins play host to the Braves.
“I was long shut down at this time of the year last year,” Fernandez said. “It feels good to be here, working, helping my team out.”
Redmond said the team is formulating a plan for Fernandez now and it’s likely they could bring up a couple of starting pitchers from the minors when rosters expand in September to get a look.
Third baseman Placido Polanco, on the seven-day disabled list with a concussion since Monday, moved from the stationary bike on Friday to taking ground balls in the infield Saturday.
“Polanco is feeling much better,” Redmond said. “The plan is for him to take grounders, see how it feels. Maybe [he’ll hit Sunday]. We’re not really going on a structured plan.”
COMING UPSunday: Monday: Scouting report: