MIAMI -- Marlins right-hander Jose Fernandez was dominant on Wednesday, but not unbeatable in his 5 2/3-inning outing against the Tigers at Marlins Park.
For stretches, Fernandez was simply overpowering, and he compiled 13 strikeouts, one shy of his career best. But as impressive as the 23-year-old was, the Tigers still tagged him for five runs. Fernandez was lifted after 106 pitches, and when the Marlins were unable to rally in the 7-3 loss, his MLB-record streak of 17 consecutive home victories to start a career ended.
"The fans gave their support," Fernandez said. "You want to give them that win. But it is baseball, man, anything can happen. We'll get ready for the next time, that's it."
The outing was Fernandez's 10th in which he struck out 13 or more. According to ESPN Stats and Info, it's the sixth time since 1920 a pitcher has struck out 13 in less than six innings. But with the strikeouts came a high pitch count, as he was at 78 through five innings and logged 26 more in the sixth before exiting.
"His stuff is good, but I think he can continue to grow and get better," manager Don Mattingly said. "It's funny you say something like that with a guy like Jose, but you do always have to be on the mission to get better and figure out a way to use your pitches at different times in the game and know exactly what you want to do. Jose is great, but he still can get better."
Fernandez was blazing fastballs as high as 98 mph past hitters, and he mixed in a wipeout curveball to keep the Tigers honest.
Of his 13 strikeouts, seven were on curveballs, five on fastballs and one on a changeup.
But Fernandez fell into a second-inning hole after Jarrod Saltalamacchia connected on a two-run homer, turning on an 83-mph breaking ball.
"Good pitch, better swing," Fernandez said. "It's not going to be the first time. It's not going to be the last time I give up something like that. I tip my cap when that happens."
Fernandez's day ended with two outs in the sixth inning after Nick Castellanos sliced an RBI double to left-center and center fielder Marcell Ozuna watched it fall.
"I felt like that ball, it was up in the air a long time," Mattingly said. "There was a little miscommunication there, I felt like that ball could be caught. We'll see."
Of his 48 MLB starts, Fernandez's 106 pitches are his eighth most. His career high is 114, set on May 4, 2014, against the Dodgers, then managed by Mattingly.
Fernandez sent a message in the first inning, striking out Ian Kinsler, Justin Upton and Miguel Cabrera in order. His first pitch of the season was a 98-mph fastball, and he used 82- and 84-mph curveballs, respectively, to fan Upton and Cabrera. Upton is now 0-for-13 with 10 strikeouts against Fernandez.
It was the second time in his career that Fernandez struck out the side in order in the first, with the other on May 27, 2013, at Tampa Bay.
"They came out on top," Fernandez said. "I felt great. The result is not what I wanted. ... It's a very long season. I'm not panicking, let's put it that way."
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. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.