The scoreboard at Marlins Park had fallen asleep, and who can blame it?
After the Marlins and Royals had combined for exactly one run through the first 14 innings of their series, the thing went blank.
Maybe it was a wake-up call for the Marlins, who snapped out of their funk with a three-run sixth en route to a 3-0 win over the defending World Series champs.
Jose Fernandez ended his own three-loss skid while setting a single-season team record for strikeouts. His strikeout of Alex Gordon in the sixth gave him 210 this season, breaking Ryan Dempster’s club mark.
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“That’s all fun, the strikeouts and everything,” Fernandez said. “But we’ve got to win ballgames to go to the playoffs. That’s what we want as a team.”
Fernandez walked away with his 13th win and a slight limp, the result of his right calf cramping during his final inning. Fernandez said it was no big deal and would be ready to make his next scheduled start.
“I was cramping for the last five pitches,” Fernandez said. “I was sweating and cramping. I changed uniforms twice [during the game] from sweating.”
Fernandez, who last won on July 23, blanked the Royals over seven innings while adding nine more strikeouts to his season total.
He also contributed with his bat.
His infield single in the third was the Marlins’ only hit off Dillon Gee through the first five innings. And his one-out single off Gee in the sixth finally got the ball rolling for the Marlins, who suddenly came to life at the plate.
“To me, hitting is where I have a lot of fun and what I love to do,” Fernandez said.
Dee Gordon and Martin Prado followed with singles to load the bases for Christian Yelich, who ended the team’s 18-inning scoring drought with a two-run single off Gee.
Marcell Ozuna drove in the third run of the inning on a sacrifice fly.
A.J. Ramos worked a clean eighth before Fernando Rodney took over in the ninth and encountered trouble.
The Royals loaded the bases with two outs.
But Rodney was able to retire Christian Colon on a soft liner to shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria, who made perhaps the most spectacular defensive play of the season for the Marlins with a diving catch of Alcides Escobar’s line drive.
Otherwise, the night belonged to Fernandez.
Fernandez raised his season strikeout total to 213 and is on pace to finish with the third-highest rate of strikeouts per nine innings in major-league history.
When he struck out Gordon, the scoreboard noted the feat with a brief tribute, after which it burned out.