Jose Fernandez cost the Marlins a run with an uncharacteristic lack of hustle, jogging to first on a ground ball when he should have been running, and some in Tuesday’s crowd let him know about it by voicing their displeasure with a smattering of boos.
After that, Fernandez shut everyone up by shutting down the Braves.
The 21-year-old ace turned in yet another stellar performance at Marlins Park, where he remained unbeaten (12-0) for his career in a 9-0 shellacking of the first-place Braves.
Fernandez gave up only two hits over eight scoreless innings, struck out eight, drove in a run with a hit, and prevented one from scoring with a deft pump fake after fielding a dribbler near the third-base line.
His base-running gaffe aside, one in which he was thrown out at first by Andrelton Simmons after the slick-fielding shortstop bobbled the ball not once, but twice, what Fernandez has done at Marlins Park has been nothing short of remarkable.
Soon, it could become record-setting.
Fernandez has yet to allow as many as three runs in any of his 19 career home starts. If he does it again in his next scheduled start on Sunday, he’ll tie Orel Hershiser’s major-league mark of 20 consecutive home starts allowing fewer than three runs.
He credited catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia for calling a great game.
When the battery mates met to discuss strategy before Tuesday’s game, Fernandez said he told Saltalamacchia, “Whatever you put down, I’m throwing. So that’s basically what it was.”
With Braves hitters acting aggressively by swinging early in the count, Fernandez recorded a number of quick outs that served to keep his pitch count relatively low. But manager Mike Redmond refused to send Fernandez back out for the ninth, and a bid for his first career complete game.
“Had that game been maybe 3-0, I probably would have left him out there,” Redmond said. “But 9-0, he’s at 98 pitches, he did his job. We needed him to go out there and log some big innings. That’s back-to-back great starts against a great offensive team.”
The Braves were seeing Fernandez for the second time in six days. But the familiarity did them no good as Fernandez held them without a run for the second time in a week.
In four career starts against Atlanta, Fernandez is now 3-1 with a 0.93 ERA. He has given up only 13 total hits against the Braves in 29 combined innings while striking out 35.
On the season, Fernandez is now 4-1 with a 1.59 ERA.
“You’ve got to beat Cy Young once in a while,” said Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez.
Fernandez received plenty of offensive help.
Giancarlo Stanton set a team record for most RBI before the end of April when he slugged his eighth homer of the season, a two-run shot in the third off Alex Wood that landed in the Marlins’ bullpen. That gave him 31 RBI, which eclipsed Moises Alou’s mark of 30, which was set in 1997.
Saltalmacchia blasted his fifth home run.
And Ed Lucas, who was reinstated from the disabled list Tuesday and thrown into the starting lineup, had three hits in four at-bats and drove in a run.
“I didn’t realize how hard it would be to sit at home and sit on the couch and watch the games on TV,” Lucas said. “I love Rich and Tommy. But I’m kind of over them right now.”
While the Braves didn’t seem to gain any edge by seeing Fernandez for the second time in a week, the same couldn’t be said for the Marlins’ hitters, who went to town on Atlanta starter Alex Wood.
Wood, who held the Marlins to a run on four hits in a 1-0 loss in Atlanta last week, gave up seven runs on 10 hits in only five innings on Tuesday.
But the night belonged to Fernandez, who downplayed his base-running mistake.
“I thought it was an easy ground ball and I came hard out of the box,” Fernandez said. “But I saw he missed it and I was going slow, so I wasn’t going to [speed up] and something happens [like an injury]. We don’t need none of that. We need me on the mound, I think.”
Redmond said the issue wasn’t addressed in the dugout afterward.
“But that’s probably a conversation [Wednesday],” Redmond said smiling.