MIAMI (AP) — Last week, the Atlanta Braves managed only three hits and no runs against Miami ace Jose Fernandez.
Seeing him again Tuesday night, the Braves fared even worse.
Fernandez had the Braves guessing early and often, allowing two hits in eight stellar innings and leading the Marlins to a 9-0 win, easily the worst margin of defeat for Atlanta so far in this young season.
“We have to figure out how to beat Fernandez,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said after his team’s four-game winning streak was snapped. “Not everybody is Cy Young, and you still have to beat Cy Young every once in a while.”
Atlanta hadn’t been beaten by more than four runs this year, and the total margin of defeat in the Braves’ previous seven losses was a mere 12 runs.
But Fernandez (4-1) simply has dominated the Braves, allowing five hits and no runs in 16 innings over two starts against Atlanta this season. The Braves are batting .094 against him this year, with 22 strikeouts and two walks. And they made work pretty easy at times for Fernandez on Tuesday, allowing him to record his first seven outs on just 17 pitches.
“Same as last time – he’s good every time,” Atlanta’s Freddie Freeman said.
Braves starter Alex Wood (2-4) was not as good as last time, not by a long shot.
Wood and Fernandez had a memorable duel last week, combining for 25 strikeouts and no walks in what became a 1-0 Miami win.
This time, Fernandez – who got booed by some in the crowd after not running out a sharp grounder to shortstop leading off the third – only needed one run again. Miami just happened to give him eight more for good measure.
The runs came in bunches, with Miami scoring three in the third and five more in the sixth to chase Wood and break the game open. Wood gave up seven runs and 10 hits.
“They made some adjustments from last week,” Wood said. “Any time you make back-to-back starts against a team that swings the bats well, you can’t make a whole lot of mistakes. There were a few pitches I’d like to have back, but that’s baseball.”
One of those adjustments, Miami slugger Giancarlo Stanton said, was waiting on Wood’s off-speed offerings.
Stanton said Wood fooled him with those when the teams met in Atlanta last week, but he connected on one that the Braves’ starter left up in the zone for an opposite-field, two-run homer in the third, Stanton’s eighth of the season. He now has 29 RBIs in April, one short of the team record for the month.
“Stayed back … and it worked out,” Stanton said.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia also homered for Miami, which had its third-highest run output of the season in a game that took just 2 hours, 7 minutes.
“Jose did a great job,” Marlins manager Mike Redmond said. “We needed him to go out there and log some big innings, and that’s back-to-back great starts against a great offensive team.”
Miami second baseman Ed Lucas had three hits in his season debut after recovering from a broken left hand, and Marcell Ozuna hit a two-run single for the Marlins.
Fernandez lowered his ERA to 1.59. He hasn’t allowed an earned run in 23 innings over his last three starts.
The right-hander’s numbers are eye-popping going back to early in his rookie season. Fernandez is 14-4 with a 1.52 ERA in 24 starts since June 1, with 190 strikeouts against 45 walks in 160 innings.
“This kid, he can pitch,” Redmond said.
Fernandez was even solid in the field, keeping the game scoreless with a nifty play to end the third. He came hard off the mound to field Ramiro Pena’s chopper that stopped halfway up the third base line, then faked a throw to first – which baited the Braves’ Tyler Pastornicky into taking off from third base.
Fernandez simply flipped the ball to Saltalamacchia, who put the tag on a sliding Pastornicky and kept the game scoreless. By the time Fernandez returned to the mound, he had a 3-0 lead and was rolling.
NOTES: Aaron Harang (3-1) goes for Atlanta on Wednesday against the Marlins’ Nathan Eovaldi (1-1). … To make room for Lucas, the Marlins designated INF Greg Dobbs for assignment. … The Braves said LHP Mike Minor (shoulder soreness) will start in Atlanta on Friday, making his season debut against San Francisco.