MIAMI (CBSMiami/AP) – If there is anything to feel good about with the 2015 Miami Marlins, it’s the pitcher who will take the mound on Sunday.
Jose Fernandez’s performance in his first month back from Tommy John surgery has made the Marlins’ miserable season somewhat tolerable.
Looking to remain unbeaten at home for his career, the right-hander tries to help the lowly Marlins prevent the San Diego Padres from matching a season high with a fifth straight win Sunday.
Fernandez (4-0, 2.53 ERA) wasn’t totally on his game while yielding four hits and four walks in six innings against Washington on Tuesday, but only allowed one run in a 4-1 home victory. It was good enough for him to improve to 15-0 with 1.19 ERA in 23 starts at Marlins Park.
“It’s always fun to win. Winning at home is even more fun,” said Fernandez after throwing a season-high 99 pitches in his fifth start since returning July 2 from elbow surgery.
Fernandez, who turned 23 on Friday, has struck out 173 and walked 40 while opponents have hit .172 against him at home in his career. He’ll have the chance to join Johnny Allen (1932-33) and LaMarr Hoyt (1979-82) as the only pitchers since 1900 to win their first 16 home decisions.
“His record speaks for itself, what he’s been able to do here,” interim Miami manager Dan Jennings said. “I think it’s remarkable.”
Fernandez is 2-1 with a 2.29 ERA against San Diego, but allowed a two-run homer and a grand slam to Jedd Gyorko on May 9 of last season – his final outing before undergoing surgery.
More than a year later, Fernandez is in fine shape but Miami (42-62) has the majors’ second-worst record and has totaled 16 runs while hitting .182 in losing seven of the last eight.
The Marlins managed three runs and five hits in each of the first two of this set and dropped their fourth in a row, 5-3 on Saturday.
Things might not get any easier against James Shields (8-4, 3.77), who has a 2.12 ERA while going 1-1 and receiving four runs of support while on the mound in his last three starts. He gave up a two-run first-inning homer and one other run in the eighth of a 4-0 loss to the New York Mets on Tuesday.
Though the right-hander’s name was one of many Padre veterans rumored to be involved in trade talks this week, he’s content in his first year with the club.
“As far as I’m concerned, I think I’m going to be here for a while,” he said. “I think we’re on the right track. We’ve just got to keep rolling.”
Though Shields’ most recent start against the Marlins came in 2012, he’s allowed one earned run over 32 innings to go 3-0 in his last four.
Yangervis Solarte and Matt Kemp each had two hits with a RBI on Saturday as San Diego (51-53) won for the 12th time in the last 16 games with a fifth consecutive victory over Miami. The Padres, third in the NL West and 6 1/2 games out of the final wild-card spot, have scored at least five runs and recorded nine or more hits in each of the last four.
“The security guard from Miami told me, ‘I’ve never seen anything like this. If they do ‘Major League 4,’ you guys could be ‘Major League 4,'” interim Padres manager Pat Murphy said. “We’re having fun and the guys are believing.”
Kemp is batting .348 with 15 RBIs in his last 19 games.
Miami’s Dee Gordon remains among baseball’s leaders with a .330 average but is 1 for 15 in the last four games.
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