Jose Fernandez pitches so well at home that even a little lack of control can cause concern.
And even then, it hasn’t been enough to derail his home perfection.
Sparked by the return of All-Star second baseman Dee Gordon from injury, Fernandez minimized the damage, allowing the Marlins to rally for a 4-1 comeback win that kept Fernandez’s unbeaten streak at Marlins Park intact and snapped the team’s three-game losing streak.
“We got a win and it’s great to see how your teammates go out there and give it their best,” Fernandez said. “I was obviously not at my best tonight, but those guys made it a really good night for all 25 of us.”
Gordon led off the sixth inning — when the Marlins took the lead for good — with a triple, and went 2 for 3.
The Marlins belted three consecutive hits each time on the first pitch from Nationals starter Jordan Zimmermann, who went six innings and gave up eight hits and two walks to go along with three earned runs, in the sixth to take the lead for good.
Gordon, who has been on the disabled list since July 12 with a dislocated thumb, smacked the first pitch of that sixth inning from Zimmermann to deep center and raced all the way to third with his fifth triple of the season.
“It was a long two weeks, but I’m just happy to be back and contribute,” Gordon said. “I was glad to hit that first pitch. I needed it to get rid of the jitters.”
Martin Prado went 3 for 3 with an RBI and Christian Yelich went 2 for 4 an RBI as they and Gordon combined for seven hits at the top of the lineup.
“That was huge for them to grind out the at-bats and swing the bat the way they did,” Marlins manager Dan Jennings said.
Closer A.J. Ramos ran into some trouble in the top of the ninth, loading the bases with one out, but converted his 17th save in 19 chances since May 13th after inducing Yunel Escobar to ground into a double play.
Fernandez improved his record since returning July 2nd from Tommy John surgery to 4-0 and his ERA to 2.53. For his career, he improved to 15-0 at Marlins Park in 23 home starts – a span of 151 2/3 innings in which he has a 1.13 ERA. He is also 2-0 with a 0.69 ERA in four career starts – all at home – against the Nationals.
Fernandez’s unbeaten streak at home to start a career is already a Major League record. According to Elias, only Johnny Allen (1932-33) and LaMarr Hoyt (1980-82) have won more home decisions to start a career since 1900. Each of them went 16-0 before taking a loss. Fernandez’s next scheduled home start is Sunday against the Padres.
“I don’t get wrapped up in the records,” Fernandez said. “It’s all about my teammates. This is about those other 24 guys winning today. It’s always fun to win and even more when it’s a home.”
Fernandez labored a bit early, giving up four walks — a season-high after only giving up three walks in 26 previous innings pitched — and surrendered four hits through the first five innings.
Fernandez gave up the lone run in the second after having not given up a run earlier than the fourth inning in his previous three starts since allowing two in the first inning of his first start of the season against the Giants on July 2. He exited the game after six innings, having thrown 99 pitches.
But each time Fernandez faced a potentially serious threat, he either minimized the damage or escaped unscathed.
A leadoff walk to Bryce Harper and a double by Ryan Zimmerman in the second inning eventually set up Wilson Ramos’ sacrifice fly ball that gave Washington a 1-0 lead.
The Nationals nearly added more in the fifth, loading the bases with one out. Fernandez got out of the jam by inducing Jayson Werth to ground into an inning ending double play.
The Marlins started their comeback in the bottom half of the sixth when Adeiny Hechavarria hit a sacrifice fly to score J.T. Realmuto and tie the game at 1. Realmuto, one of the few bright spots at the plate during the Marlins recent 10-game road trip, hit .355 during that span and kept his hot hitting going Tuesday.
Fernandez closing in on history
Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez is one of just three pitchers in MLB history to win 15 or more home decisions without a loss to start a career:
T1. LaMarr Hoyt, White Sox
T1. Johnny Allen, Yankees
3. Jose Fernandez, Marlins
Source: Elias Sports Bureau