Opening the morning newspaper and discovering the names of Jose Fernandez and Giancarlo Stanton in the same box score was a rare event the past two seasons. Injuries to one or the other kept them from standing on the field at the same time in all but eight games.
Now, the Marlins are getting to see what they can do as a healthy tandem.
On Monday, both delivered in the Marlins’ 6-1 victory over the Nationals.
Fernandez became the first starting pitcher to record a win this season for the Marlins, while Stanton became the first player to take advantage of the shorter outfield dimensions at Marlins Park.
His home run off Tanner Roark would not have gone out a season ago.
“It’s nice to have those guys together and healthy,” said manager Don Mattingly. “One of the best pitchers in the game, and obviously a prolific slugger.”
The win snapped the Marlins’ four-game game losing streak and gave them their first home win after an 0-5 start at Marlins Park. The Marlins celebrated by turning on their new clubhouse fog machine, which they bought before the season for home wins but had been unable to use until Monday.
“This is all about having fun,” Fernandez said.
Fernandez’s outing was not a thing of beauty. He walked four batters, struck another with a fastball, and unleashed two wild pitches. Fernandez was so upset with himself that when he walked off the mound after the second inning, he slapped himself on the side of his head with his glove. By that point, he had already thrown 54 pitches.
“Too many pitches,” Fernandez said. “That’s now what you want to do. I’m a little disappointed about that.”
But Fernandez said he sensed warming up before the game that he might be in for some trouble. He felt so strong, he said, he warned pitching coach Juan Nieves about it.
“I felt very strong before the game,” Fernandez said. “I told Juan, ‘I’ve got to be real careful because I felt real strong.’”
Fernandez said he needs to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
“It shouldn’t take me so long to figure it out,” he said. “There’s lot of work to be done.”
Even though Fernandez struggled with his control, he was effectively wild.
He didn’t allow his first hit until Michael Taylor doubled off him with one out in the fifth. And he struck out nine. Fernandez somehow managed to complete six innings despite a high pitch count early.
He also received ample offensive support.
The Marlins scored three runs in the first, with two crossing the plate on Marcell Ozuna’s two-out single off Roark, and another in the second on Martin Prado’s ground ball out.
In the fifth, Stanton took Roark deep for his third home run.
The ball barely cleared the wall in right center, landing in a patch of shrubbery that had only recently been planted after the Marlins moved in the wall. Stanton drove in another run with a single in the seventh.
Stanton brought a .205 average into the game.
“It’s not like he really cares about how far the fence is,” Fernandez said. “It doesn’t matter to him. I trust him. With him, he’s so good that we all know what he’s going to do.”
The Marlins, who were humbled thoroughly over the weekend by the previously winless Braves, losing all three games, are now 4-2 against the Nationals and Mets, the two top teams in the National League East.
“I think we were all waiting for this,” Fernandez said.