It was an eventful night for Jose Fernandez.
He used his bat to drive in a run. He used his legs to score from first on a triple. He used his surgically repaired arm to strike out 11.
Fernandez also drilled Arizona’s David Peralta in the helmet with a 97 mph fastball, causing tempers to flare and leading to two ejections.
In the end, Fernandez and the Marlins prevailed in a 5-3 win over Arizona to take the series, two games to one.
Fernandez improved to 3-0 in his four games since returning from Tommy John surgery and provided further indication that the Marlins’ ace is back to his old form.
“I’m not going to say I’m back to the way I was before,” Fernandez said. “But I feel like I’ve grown as a pitcher.”
Fernandez held the Diamondbacks to three runs on five hits and a pair of walks over seven innings, while supplying offense with an RBI double in Miami’s three-run second inning. The 22-year-old scored from first on an Ichiro Suzuki triple in the fifth.
Upon reaching the dugout after his exhausting, 270-foot jaunt around the bases, the panting Fernandez was towel-fanned by his teammates before returning to the mound and continuing to throw gas.
His night ended when he whiffed Chris Owings to end the seventh, bringing his final pitch count to a season-high 96 pitches.
Amid it all, he was involved in a frightening scene in the sixth when he lost control of an 0-2 fastball. The ball struck Peralta in the side of the helmet, sending the Arizona outfielder to the ground for perhaps a minute, or longer.
A distraught Fernandez put his hands on his head, walking toward the batter’s box to make sure Peralta was OK.
“I got really scared,” Fernandez said. “It’s sad because I know the kid personally.”
Diamondbacks hitting coach Turner Ward, apparently not liking what he saw, said something and was promptly ejected. Peralta was eventually helped to his feet, walked back to the dugout under his own power, and was taken out of the game.
Evidently, Fernandez recovers quickly, striking out Yasmany Thomas on three pitches to end the sixth.
But the fireworks didn’t end there.
When Christian Yelich came up with two outs in the top of the seventh, Diamondbacks reliever Domonic Leone targeted a pitch for the hip, striking flesh. That led to the immediate ejection of Leone.
“We didn’t hit their guy on purpose,” Yelich said. “Everybody knows that. I think they had a problem with [Fernandez] going to make sure he was OK, which I don’t really understand, because that’s a classy way to handle it. I mean, he’s buddies with the guy, so he’s not trying to hit him. He’s trying to make sure he’s OK. They had a problem with that for some reason.”
Fernandez left with a 5-3 lead.
The bullpen nearly let it go to waste. Sam Dyson took over in the eighth and promptly walked the first batter he faced — Paul Goldschmidt — before giving up a single to the second, A.J. Pollock. Pollock advanced an extra base on the throw, and Arizona had runners at second and third with no outs.
But the Marlins wiggled out of it.
When Goldschmidt tried to score from third on Yasmany Tomas’ ground ball to Edgar Prado, he was thrown out at the plate. Mike Dunn then entered and struck out Jake Lamb before walking Cliff Pennington to load the bases.
Bryan Morris was brought in and struck out Oscar Hernandez. Out of all of that, the Diamondbacks came up empty.
It became even more tense in the ninth when the Diamondbacks loaded the bases off A.J. Ramos with no outs and Goldschmidt stepped to the plate.
“That’s when I get a little adrenalin going,” Ramos said. “When they loaded the bases, I turned to the umpire and said, ‘This is when I like to pitch.’ He looked at me a little weird.”
Ramos pulled off a Houdini act, striking out Goldschmidt, Pollock and Tomas to end the game.
“Not good for the manager’s heart,” Marlins skipper Dan Jennings said. “But exciting.”