Jose returns to dominant form vs. Brewers

Marlins ace K's 11 in seven shutout, his longest start of season

Jose returns to dominant form vs. Brewers

MIAMI -- It was the seventh start of the season for Jose Fernandez on Monday night, but the first outing that he truly resembled his normal self.

Keeping his pitch count manageable, the 23-year-old struck out 11 in seven scoreless innings in the Marlins' 4-1 victory over the Brewers at Marlins Park.

"Tonight is what we've been waiting to see from him all season," catcher J.T. Realmuto said. "He threw the ball great. He commanded all of his pitches. The key to me is he was able to get through seven innings and save our bullpen."

Fernandez had gone between five and six innings in his previous starts. Against Milwaukee, he was able to go seven on 110 pitches, scattering four hits but also walking four.

"I feel like I was making good pitches at good times," Fernandez said. "That's what we work for. I know I have a responsibility in front of my teammates. When I'm pitching, I try to do my job every time. I'm just lucky I kept my team in the game today, and we did what we did."

The game ended on a high for Fernandez, but it nearly started off with disaster.

Jonathan Villar doubled to open the game, and Alex Presley followed that with a walk. With two on and no outs, Fernandez had to work to keep the Brewers off the board. He got a long flyout to center field against Ryan Braun, which saw Villar advance to third. But with runners on the corners, Chris Carter bounced into a 5-4-3 double play, and Fernandez was able to settle in from that point.

"Very important," Fernandez said of escaping the first inning unscathed. "Every out is important. I have a really good team behind me that I trust 100 percent. I trust in them all the time. So I'm not worried about getting contact and getting hard-hit balls."

Deep pitch counts have plagued Fernandez in most of his starts. But he was in control, protecting a one-run lead through six innings, and after the seventh, he exited with a two-run advantage.

"He was getting smooth at the end," manager Don Mattingly said. "It was one of those outings where around 80 [pitches], you could kind of see him smooth out. He was good."

Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. 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.