By Joe Frisaro and Steve Wilaj
MLB.com |@JoeFrisaro |
MIAMI -- Not that Jose Fernandez is too shabby on the road, but home certainly has been where the wins are for the Miami ace. The right-hander, despite not being his sharpest, gave up one run with five strikeouts in six innings on Tuesday night in the Marlins' 4-1 win over the Nationals.
With the victory, Fernandez improved to 4-0 on the season and 15-0 in his career at Marlins Park. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, since 1900, only Johnny Allen (1932-33) and LaMarr Hoyt (1980-82) have started their careers winning more consecutive decisions than Fernandez. They each won 16.
Dee Gordon, returning from the disabled list after dislocating his thumb on July 11, had two hits, including a triple in a two-run sixth inning off Jordan Zimmermann, who gave up three runs in six innings. Martin Prado had three singles and an RBI.
"We got a win. I think my teammates have got my back 100 percent," Fernandez said. "It's great to see your teammates go out there and they're battling 100 percent. Obviously, I was not at my best tonight. But they made it a good night for all 25 guys tonight. I'm really happy about it."
The Nationals, who traded for Jonathan Papelbon during the game, claimed a 1-0 lead in the second on Wilson Ramos' sacrifice fly to right, scoring Bryce Harper, who walked and went to third on Ryan Zimmerman's double to left. It was Zimmerman's first at-bat after coming off the disabled list.
"Overall I thought some guys put together some good at-bats," Nationals manager Matt Williams said. "We just couldn't come through with that one we needed."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Jose's big double play: Two singles and a one-out walk to Yunel Escobar loaded the bases for Washington with one out in the fifth inning. With the score even at 1, it was a big moment. But Fernandez, who walked a season-high four, was able to execute his most important pitch of the night, an 89-mph changeup, to get Jayson Werth to tap into a 5-4-3 double play. Like Zimmerman, it was Werth's first game off the DL.
"Werth is a great hitter. Their whole lineup is really tough," Fernandez said. "I give a lot of respect to them. I think [catcher] J.T. [Realmuto] called an incredible game. We had a really good game plan. It was his call. All the credit to him. I'm really excited about the way they competed. It was fun to watch out there." More >
Nats leave bags loaded in ninth: Down by three runs entering the final frame, the Nationals loaded the bases with one out on Michael Taylor's walk, Clint Robinson's double and Anthony Rendon's free pass. However, Marlins closer A.J. Ramos forced Escobar into a 4-6-3 double play to end the game. The Nats stranded 10 and went 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position.
"We have to come through," Williams said. "When you have those opportunities, you have to get a base hit to win a game. Didn't happen tonight. But we'll take those opportunities every day."
Zimmermann dodges a bullet: With one out and a runner on first in the bottom of the fifth inning, Marlins cleanup hitter Casey McGehee sent a screaming line drive back up the middle at Zimmermann. The ball appeared to be heading for the head area of the righty, but he quickly threw his glove up in self defense while falling to the ground and deflected it to Anthony Rendon, who turned the 1-4-6-3 double play to end the frame.
Gordon's leadoff single: It didn't take long for Gordon to put to rest some doubts. Reinstated from the disabled list, the Miami All-Star second baseman ripped a sharp single to left to lead off the first inning. Gordon was playing for the first time since July 11, when he dislocated his left thumb. On the bases, the speedster wore a protective guard for his thumb. While it was encouraging for Miami to have its second baseman back, Gordon's overaggressiveness on the bases got him caught trying to steal second. Gordon made his break while Zimmermann was still holding the ball. He was out easily. But in the sixth inning, Gordon energized a two-run inning with a leadoff triple.
"Our first three guys in the lineup, with seven hits, welcome back Dee Gordon," manager Dan Jennings said. "It sure is nice to see him at the top of that lineup. He had that big triple there." More >
"There is a lot of baseball to be played. We signed up for 162 and we're going to play all 162. I think that's a tribute to the pride factor in that room. These guys are professionals. Anything, everything potentially can happen. We have to go out every night and play the quality of baseball we're capable of. Tonight was certainly one of those nights." -- Jennings, on the Marlins finding motivation, considering where they are in the standings
"He's proven. He's good and we're happy to have him on our team. With him and Drew [Storen] in the back end of our bullpen, it makes it easier on the starters -- that's for sure -- to go six innings and hand it off to those guys. They're gonna lock it down most of the time. It's exciting and we just need to start playing a little better ball." -- Zimmerman, on the Nationals trading for Papelbon during the game
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Fernandez, who had walked just three in 26 innings in his first four starts, matched his career high with four walks, now done five times.
Gordon appeared to beat out a sacrifice bunt attempt in the bottom of the seventh inning and was initially called safe. But Williams challenged the call, and the replay showed that reliever Sammy Solis' throw narrowly beat Gordon to first. The review took approximately one minute and 47 seconds and changed Gordon's third hit of the day to a sacrifice.
In the eighth inning, the Nationals challenged a stolen base by Adeiny Hechavarria. Second-base umpire Alan Porter ruled Hechavarria's swim move enabled him to avoid shortstop Ian Desmond's tag. But after a review of one minute and five seconds, the call was overturned.
WHAT'S NEXT Nationals:Doug Fister (3-5, 4.50 ERA) tries to get back on track and stay hot against the Marlins on Wednesday at 7:10 p.m. ET. The righty is 2-0 with a 1.09 ERA in four outings for his career vs. Miami. Papelbon is expected to be in uniform for Washington.
Marlins:Tom Koehler (8-6, 3.16) gets the nod at Marlins Park vs. the Nats. At home, Koehler is 4-1 with a 1.68 ERA.
Joe Frisaro is a reporter for MLB.com. He writes a blog, called The Fish Pond. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast. Steve Wilaj is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.