Jose Fernandez talks about his start against the Cubs
Jose Fernandez stood on second base and pointed to his right biceps after hitting a ball all the way to the outfield wall Sunday afternoon.
Fernandez didn’t have to flex much to prove to the Cubs how strong a pitcher he is.
Fernandez struck out 13 as he perplexed Cubs’ hitters for the better part of seven innings to lead the Marlins to a 6-1 victory.
“Jose looked like he was on a mission to show that club over there what kind of pitcher he was,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said.
His double in the fifth inning, which prompted his playful gesture, was his first extra-base hit since July 22 of last season.
“I believe that I can hit,” Fernandez said. “I know that I can’t. I’m always telling my teammates I can and once every 10 games when I do, I get really excited.”
The Marlins (41-35) moved to six games over .500 for the first time since June 6, 2012, and beat the Cubs (48-26) for the third time in four games.
Martin Prado, who played a big part in the team’s comeback win Saturday, hit a bases-clearing double in the eighth to break the game open.
“Those tack-on runs are always so nice,” Mattingly said. “We’ve been using kind of our big three guys in the back [of the bullpen] day after day after day. At some point, you know you can’t do that and can’t sustain that over the course of the season.”
Fernandez’s latest Marlins Park masterpiece moved his record at home to 24-1 with a 1.48 ERA in 35 starts.
Fernandez (10-3, 2.28 ERA) reached the 10-win mark for the first time since his 2013 All-Star rookie season when he won 12 games.
His only trouble came in the third inning, when his counterpart on the mound, Jason Hammel, and Jason Heyward hit back-to-back singles with one out.
Hammel tied the score at 1, scoring on a sacrifice fly by Kris Bryant. But Fernandez limited the damage by striking out Anthony Rizzo with a slider low and inside that made him chase.
“The Cubs have a lot of guys that know what they’re doing at the plate and they’re a tough team to beat,” Fernandez said. “I was trying not to give up any runs obviously, but with Bryant and Rizzo coming up you have to make a good pitch.”
With his fifth strikeout in the third, Fernandez recorded the most strikeouts by a Marlins pitcher in a season before the midseason break. Fernandez (138 strikeouts so far this season) figures to be in line to make two more starts before the All-Star game.
Fernandez struck out 10 or more batters in a game for the sixth time (setting a franchise record for a single season) and for the 15th time in his career.
Fernandez recorded his final two strikeouts in the seventh, despite entering the frame having thrown 96 pitches. With the Marlins ahead 2-1, Fernandez finished his outing with 108 pitches overall — 71 for strikes.
“I think I’m learning a lot about how to pitch,” Fernandez said. “I’m not just a young guy with a lot of talent that can strike people out. I have a great relationship with [Mattingly] and I told him, whatever you think is right, I’ll go with. The main goal here isn’t me pitching more, it’s winning games.”
The Marlins took the lead for good in the bottom of the sixth after winning a replay challenge on what originally was ruled an inning-ending double play for the Cubs.
The call was overturned as Adeiny Hechavarria was ruled to have beaten the relay throw to first by Ben Zobrist, allowing Giancarlo Stanton to score from third.
Hechavarria bounced a ball up the third base line on the pla, which Kris Bryant fielded quickly.But he hesitated to throw to Zobrist, who was late to cover the bag at second.
Stanton led off the inning with a double to deep center. Derek Dietrich reached base two batters later after getting hit by a fastball from Jason Hammel (the Marlins got the ruling after winning a challenge).
With those two calls overturned, the Marlins won their 18th replay challenge in 28 opportunities this season.
Dietrich was hit by pitches twice in the game, bringing his total of hits this year to 13, which matched his highest in a single-season.