After picking his mother up at the airport Saturday and taking her to lunch, Jose Fernandez did what a 20-year-old son is supposed to do: He made her proud.
Fernandez not only recorded his first home win with a dominating performance on the mound, but delivered two big hits at the plate as the Marlins rolled to a 8-1 victory over the New York Mets.
“Anytime I get to see my family, that makes me really happy,” he said.
The rookie hurler turned in seven shutout innings, retired the final 11 batters he faced — seven on strikeouts — and proved to the Mets he’s not someone they’ll look forward to seeing in the years to come.
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If the Marlins fail to challenge the hapless 1962 New York Mets for incompetency, they can thank the modern Mets for helping them out. They have proved to be the only team the Marlins have managed to beat with any regularity.
On Saturday, the Marlins — winners of 15 games all season — defeated them for the fifth time.
While Fernandez was doing his thing on the mound, holding the Mets to three singles while whiffing eight, the Marlins hitters showed some rare spark at the plate by pounding out 13 hits.
It was a collective effort, too.
Every member of the lineup, save for Juan Pierre and Marcell Ozuna, collected at least one hit. Eight different players scored a run, with only Adeiny Hechavarria failing to cross home plate.
And the Marlins were aggressive on the base paths.
Catcher Jeff Mathis scored from first on a Fernandez single to left-center in the second and drove in a run with a triple in the fourth. The triple for Mathis was just his second in 1,437 career at-bats. Only two other active players with at least 1,400 at-bats, Justin Smoak and Chris Snyder, had either one or zero triples going into Saturday.
“It was a good day offensively,” manager Mike Redmond said. “Everybody stepped up, and I’m happy to see that. It was good that we could distribute it.”
But it was Fernandez who set the tone with his work on the mound.
Fernandez was emerging from the most disappointing outing of his career when, while pitching in front of dozens of friends and family members on Monday in St. Petersburg, he gave up seven runs and was knocked out in the fourth inning by the Tampa Bay Rays.
“I was a little upset like I should be after that game,” Fernandez said.
Fernandez was perhaps too amped up for that game, and it cost him.
“He was probably overly excited, probably trying to do a little too much,” Mathis said.
With Fernandez, Mathis said, “All the talent’s there, and we all see that.”
The key for the pitcher, Mathis said, “is just putting the governor on himself, just staying within himself.”
Fernandez was never not in control Saturday. Taking on the Mets for the third time already, Fernandez gave up a leadoff single to Omar Quintanilla to start the game before going into shutdown mode.
When he reached the fourth inning, he gained command of his curveball and the Mets became helpless to do anything about it.
“Took him a little while to settle in and get his secondary pitches to come around and be able to throw those for strikes,” Redmond said. “I know his fastball was good early. But he really started throwing his breaking ball, and once he got that going, he was in complete control of the game.”
Redmond was also pleased that Fernandez was able to put the Rays outing behind him.
“He’s been able to bounce back after a tough start and be great, and he was again [Saturday],” Redmond said.
Said Fernandez: “I controlled myself, not overdo myself. I’m pretty happy about how I came back.”
The win put the Marlins in a rare position. With a win on Sunday, they would claim their first series sweep and first three-game-winning streak.