Jose Fernandez saved his first for last.
His first loss, that is.
Making his 11th and final start of the season, Fernandez (6-1) suffered his first defeat since returning on July 2 from Tommy John surgery as the Tampa Bay Rays swept the Marlins with a 4-1 victory.
Fernandez gave up a career-high 11 hits — nine of them singles — but limited the damage by issuing no walks and holding the Rays to two runs over six innings. He struck out nine in what was an uneven performance.
But when the Rays were able to make contact, batted balls often found holes for one-base hits. The exceptions were Evan Longoria’s solo homer in the first and a second-inning double by Kevin Kiermaier.
“A lot of seeing-eye hits he gave up, outside of the one ball to Longoria,” said Marlins manager Dan Jennings. “Quite a few of the were ground-ball hits.”
Said Fernandez, who went to high school in nearby Tampa and has now lost both of his career outings at Tropicana Field: “Tampa doesn’t like me, I think. We were joking about it, but it’s not becoming a joke anymore.”
The Rays totaled 16 hits for the game, as the Marlins relievers were just as susceptible as Fernandez was before them.
Unlike his previous start, when the Marlins hitters had Fernandez’s back by overcoming the six runs he surrendered in what turned into a Miami win, they gave him very little help.
They were without a hit off Rays starter Jake Odorizzi until Marcell Ozuna singled to open the fifth before later scoring on Ichiro Suzuki’s sacrifice fly. It was the first RBI for Suzuki following a 123-at bat drought without one, the longest in the majors this season and second-longest in Marlins history.
Not even Dee Gordon, who is in the chase for the National League batting title, was able to provide any offensive support. Gordon went 0 for 4, lowering his average to .329. Washington’s Bryce Harper leads the league with a .331 average.
Though he was pleased that he was able to make a successful return from Tommy John surgery and finished the season healthy, Fernandez said he is not totally satisfied and hopes to improve in 2016.
“There’s a lot of work to do, way too much work,” Fernandez said. “I’ve got a long ways to go. Not even close to where I need to be. A lot of homework to do. Hopefully I’m going to learn from this year.”
Bo Porter has interviewed for the Marlins managing job.
The news was first reported by Jon Heyman of cbssports.com.
It’s not his first time. Porter also interviewed for the position when it was open in 2010 and 2011.
Porter, who is currently the third-base coach for the Atlanta Braves, was a coach for the Marlins in 2007-09 and later managed the Houston Astros.
The Marlins are believed to have a list of five or six candidates for the job.
Rainy days ahead
The Marlins haven’t had a game postponed due to rain all season.
But that streak could end Friday, as heavy rain is forecast for Philadelphia. Hurricane Joaquin is also moving up the eastern seaboard but is not expected to impact the Philadelphia area — if it moves in that direction — until early next week.
▪ Catcher Jeff Mathis has been missing in action for the past couple of days, and for good reason. His wife delivered their first child, a girl, Monday night in South Florida.
▪ Friday: Marlins LHP Justin Nicolino (4-4, 4.16) at Phillies RHP Aaron Harang (6-15, 4.86), 7:05 p.m., Citizens Bank Park.
Saturday: Marlins RHP Tom Koehler (11-14, 4.00) at Phillies (TBA), 7:05 p.m., Citizens Bank Park.