Fernandez flashes dominance, quiets Dodgers

Rookie strikes out eight over six innings to beat baseball's hottest team

By Joe Frisaro /8/19/2013 11:59 PM ET

MIAMI -- The buildup focused on Jose Fernandez facing Yasiel Puig in a matchup of Cuban-born stars and National League Rookie of the Year Award frontrunners. The reality was that the Marlins' 21-year-old rookie was looking to slow down a juggernaut.
The kid did it.
Fernandez struck out eight over six innings, and Logan Morrison provided a critical go-ahead RBI double in the sixth that lifted the Marlins to a 6-2 win over the Dodgers on Monday night in front of 27,127 at Marlins Park.
The Marlins broke the game open with three runs in the eighth inning, sparked by Giancarlo Stanton's laser-shot home run to center.
Sporting the worst record in the NL, the Marlins did what so many other clubs haven't been able to do -- beat the Dodgers.
Consider that the Dodgers have won 42 of their last 52 games, and the Marlins improved to 48-75 with their second straight victory.
"The result of the game, as a team, I think it's amazing," said Fernandez, now 9-5 with a 2.41 ERA. "We just beat the best team in baseball. To me, that's the most important thing. As a personal goal, I think I could have pitched a lot better. But we got the win."
Fernandez quieted a red-hot club by allowing two runs (one earned) on four hits. The hard-throwing right-hander helped Miami get the best of rookie lefty Hyun-Jin Ryu (12-4), who lost for the first time since June 19.
"There was definitely electricity tonight," Marlins manager Mike Redmond said. "I think our guys fed off that. Not only the team we were playing, a team of that caliber. I think we fed off the crowd as well. They were into the game. Fernandez set the tone. He had to grind a little bit, but he's had to do that his last couple of [starts]. He gave us a chance."
Fernandez, who is on an innings limit of about 170, now is at 145 2/3 innings pitched for the season. The 109 pitches he threw are one more than he tossed against the Indians in eight innings on Aug. 2.
Not only is he building his NL Rookie of the Year case, he quite frankly has been one of the best pitchers overall in the league. The numbers show it. Since June 1, Fernandez is 7-2 with a 1.63 ERA. He has 105 strikeouts in that span in 96 1/3 innings. Next best in the NL in that stretch is Los Angeles' Clayton Kershaw, who is 7-4 with a 1.75 ERA and 100 strikeouts in 103 innings.
Fernandez was especially pumped to face the Dodgers, a team he also beat in May.
"He is high energy," Redmond said. "He told me he was fired up. He woke up at 6:30 in the morning, and he was ready to go, ready to pitch. He came to the ballpark ready to pitch. To be honest, I was a little nervous, young kid, you're not sure."
The Marlins let a two-run advantage slip away, but in the sixth inning they regained a 3-2 edge on Morrison's RBI double, which scored Donovan Solano.
"Everyone got a little up to play these guys," Stanton said. "That's what happens when you're on top, everyone is gunning for you. We took this game a little different, I'd say."
Fernandez also helped his cause with a single and a run scored in the third inning.
After Ryu retired the first eight batters he faced, Fernandez got the Marlins' offense going with a two-out single to center. He scored from first on Christian Yelich's RBI double to left. Solano's run-scoring single to right gave Miami a two-run lead.
Solano now has 18 RBIs in his last 23 games.
The Dodgers capitalized on Ed Lucas' error in the fifth inning to push across an unearned run.
Juan Uribe and Mark Ellis opened the fifth with singles. Ryu's sacrifice bunt attempt was right in front of the plate. Marlins catcher Jeff Mathis threw to Lucas at third, who was thinking double play. But Lucas dropped the ball, and the bases were loaded with no outs.
Carl Crawford tapped to second base for a fielder's choice and an RBI. With runners on the corners and one out. Fernandez struck out Puig, who swung through a 97-mph fastball that was near his eyes. Puig was upset with previous pitches and expressed frustration in the dugout. The threat ended when Adrian Gonzalez struck out swinging.
"He's a tremendous pitcher," Puig said. "He mixes his pitches well. My teammates and I came prepared, but obviously, we didn't do too well today against him."
A sidebar to the game was the meeting of two Cuban sensations.
Before the contest, Fernandez and Puig interacted, which is rare for a starting pitcher to chat with the opposition. But two batters into the game, they were staring each other down. Fernandez blazed fastballs of 97, 98 and 99 mph at Puig, who eventually was retired by popping up to short. In the third inning, Fernandez retired Puig on a grounder to Adeiny Hechavarria.
"First of all, as a person, he's a great guy," Fernandez said of Puig. "I was blessed to get to know him, and talk to him, as a friend, and not a player that I was going against. It was nice. He's pretty humble. A lot of people wouldn't think that, but he's amazing out there. He's a great talent. No doubt about it. We came out on top this time. But him, and that team, that lineup is one of the toughest I've faced this year. The Cardinals and them, pretty tough."