MIAMI (AP) — During a pregame talk, Colorado manager Walt Weiss compared Marlins rookie Jose Fernandez to Roger Clemens and Kerry Wood.
Fernandez then showed why he’s deserving of the praise.
Fernandez struck out eight in seven innings, leading the Miami Marlins to a 3-0 win over the Rockies on Saturday night.
“I just tried to go out there and get outs, get back in the dugout and let my team try to get some runs, and that’s what we did,” Fernandez said. “It feels pretty good to win.”
Fernandez (10-5) allowed four hits and did not walk a batter as he lowered his ERA to 2.30. The 21-year-old All-Star has been one of the best pitchers in the Majors since June 1, compiling a 1.52 ERA and 112 strikeouts in 15 starts.
“I don’t know if I’ve seen another 21-year old as good as him, as polished as him at that age,” Marlins manager Mike Redmond said. “He threw some nasty curveballs today and changeups as well. He just continues to have an answer for them if they take a good swing. … He is impressive with the way he commands all of his pitches.”
A.J. Ramos pitched the eighth and Steve Cishek earned his 28th save in 30 chances.
Todd Helton had two hits for the Rockies to move into 96th place on the career hits list with 2,496 in 17 seasons, all with Colorado.
The Marlins scored three runs in the fourth off Jeff Manship (0-4), who allowed three runs in six innings.
“I just need to stop the bleeding and have a little bit of luck go my way — don’t let the hits compound,” Manship said.
Fernandez showed off his youthful exuberance on several plays. First, when he snagged Troy Tulowitzki’s line drive to end the first inning, Fernandez glared at the Rockies All-Star shortstop, who asked Fernandez how he caught it. Fernandez flashed a big smile on his way back to the Marlins dugout.
“I saw it coming off the bat and I just threw my glove to it,” Fernandez said. “I’m not going to say I caught it, it caught me. Then (Troy) said, ‘You just did that.’ And I was like, ‘Yes I did.’ It was kind of funny, but we talk and we’re good friends so it’s all good.”
Then in the fifth, Fernandez tried to bunt for a base hit, but third baseman Nolan Arenado barehanded the ball and threw him out at first base. Fernandez thought he was safe and jumped up in a sign of frustration, yelled, and then gave another big smile.
“I love it, I love the energy,” Redmond said. “For us that are around him every day and get to see him compete, it’s infectious. We all love to watch it and build off of it. But at the same time, too, he’s a young kid and we make sure we temper that on the field.”
Fernandez grinned broadly after Helton singled in the seventh to move ahead of Mickey Vernon on the hits list. The ball was thrown into the Rockies dugout as a keepsake and Fernandez tipped his cap to Helton although he was unaware of the milestone.
“He’s an incredible hitter and I have to do it,” Fernandez said. “He’s 3 for 6 against me. I tried to make good pitches. He’s an incredible hitter so I have to tip my cap to guys like that who can hit so well and can do a lot of incredible stuff with the bat.”
When Fernandez was made aware of Helton’s achievement, he was happy for him.
“I helped him? Good, I’m glad that he got it and he got it against me,” Fernandez said. “That’s good, I’m pretty happy for him.”
It could be Fernandez’s last start at home where he is 7-0 with a 1.29 ERA as the Marlins plan on shutting him down in early September. His next two starts are currently scheduled to be on the road although his second start could be pushed back for another home game.
“I think the fans are big-time,” Fernandez said. “It’s a big help and I’m really loving it and enjoying pitching at home.”
Giancarlo Stanton led off the fourth with a double and scored on an RBI single by Ed Lucas. Adeiny Hechavarria followed with an RBI triple and scored on a sacrifice fly by Jake Marisnick for the 3-0 lead.
“It gives you a certain amount of comfort knowing that we’ve put some runs on the board finally and that we know Jose is going to compete,” Lucas said. “Lately he hasn’t really given up anything so all it really takes is a couple.”
Tulowitzki’s season-high 10-game hitting streak ended going 0 for 4.
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