Before Jose Fernandez had so much as thrown a pitch Saturday night, the Marlins had to be licking their chops. They not only had their ace on the mound but gave him three runs to start with.
So much for dream scenarios.
Fernandez gave the lead back in a hurry in a drubbing unlike few he’s experienced before, giving up a career-high 12 hits in an 8-3 loss to the Indians at Progressive Field.
By the end, he was so frustrated he thought of trying something crazy.
“I was thinking about rolling the ball to the plate,” Fernandez said.
Why not? The Indians were hitting every pitch he was throwing to them.
“I got hit,” Fernandez said. “I got hit really hard.”
It was yet another demoralizing setback for the fading Marlins, who have lost seven of their past eight and are looking nothing like the wild-card contender they are pretending to be.
They fell to .500 at 68-68 for the first time since May 1, when they were 12-12.
Not even a three-run lead in the hands of their best pitcher is safe anymore.
“I’m concerned with the results,” acknowledged Marlins manager Don Mattingly. “We talked about it at the [All-Star]break. We were six [games] over [.500], and we didn’t think that was going to do it. We needed to get a ways [better] from that. Obviously, it went the other direction. We’ve got to get going again.”
It was looking good early for the Marlins on Saturday. They scored three runs on three hits in the first off Indians starter Trevor Bauer. But they never scored another run and collected only one more hit — a ninth-inning single — the rest of the game.
Fernandez, meanwhile, gave up plenty of both.
Jason Kipnis clubbed a two-run home run off Fernandez in the first, one of six extra-base hits the Indians had off Fernandez, who had never given up more than five in any outing.
And the Indians managed to record those six extra-base hits — five doubles and a homer — before Fernandez recorded his first out in the third. He would exit in the sixth after giving up a dozen hits, one more than his previous high.
“I was trying to make a pitch and they hit it, trying to make another pitch and they hit it,” Fernandez said. “I made a lot of pitches where I wanted them and they still hit them.”
Fernandez said about the only better lineup he’s ever faced belongs to the Cubs.
“They re a really good team,” Fernandez said. “I was trying to battle, man.”
The top three hitters in the Indians’ lineup — Coco Crisp, Kipnis and Francisco Lindor — combined to go 9 for 12 against Fernandez. Lindor was 4 for 4 and drove the final nail in Fernandez’s coffin with a sixth-inning RBI single.
Fernandez said when he took the mound to start the game, he felt “very nice” having that three-run lead.
“I did feel good,” he said.
But the Indians jumped on him quickly and never let up.
“You know, it’s obviously early, and you always worry about the first inning with starters,” Mattingly said. “If they get through that one, a guy like Jose is usually going to be pretty good.”
On Saturday, that wasn’t the case. Far from it.
“Unfortunately, I couldn’t give a chance for my team to win,” Fernandez said. “That’s not acceptable to me.”