Jose Fernandez got the best of Alex Wood in a back-and-forth pitcher’s duel last week, mowing down Atlanta in what Miami Marlins manager Mike Redmond said may have been his best-pitched game.
Both players are looking forward to Tuesday night’s rematch.
Fernandez and Wood go toe-to-toe again as the Marlins open a three-game home set against the surging Braves.
Fernandez (3-1, 1.99 ERA) was at his best opposite Wood last Tuesday, striking out a career high-tying 14 over eight innings of three-hit ball in a 1-0 win at Atlanta. The emerging ace threw 77 of his 109 pitches for strikes and didn’t walk anyone.
”He’s got the capability of running those type of games every time he goes out,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. ”He’s got 97, 98, 99 mph early in the game, and he commands his breaking ball and he commands his fastball. … He’s pretty darn good.
”Maybe this is one of those games you watch on ESPN Classic three or four years down the road.”
Wood (2-3, 1.54), meanwhile, allowed one run and four hits over eight innings while striking out a career-best 11.
”It (stinks) to be on the wrong end of it,” Wood told MLB’s official website. ”But from a pitching standpoint, I think (Fernandez) would probably tell you the same thing, it doesn’t get any more fun than that. That’s like going back to high school days when you match up against your rival across town.
”I’m definitely excited to have a Round 2.”
While the Braves (17-7) have since pulled out four consecutive victories, extending their winning streak won’t be easy at Marlins Park, where Fernandez is 11-0 with a 1.07 ERA in 18 starts. Miami is 15-3 in those games.
Fernandez has a chance to become just the second pitcher to open his career with 12 consecutive home wins — starts only — since at least 1914. Johnny Allen went 14-0 in his first 15 home starts with the New York Yankees in 1932 and ’33.
”Just go out there and try to give my team a chance to win, that’s No. 1,” Fernandez said. ”No. 2, pitching at home, once again, I think it’s going to be amazing. I love pitching at home. Hopefully, there will be a lot of fans out there, and it is a good game.”
Fernandez has allowed one run in his last 20 innings versus the Braves and has won his last two starts against them. Justin Upton is 0 for 7 with four strikeouts in their matchups, and Chris Johnson is 1 for 9.
”They’re a team you’ve got to beat,” Fernandez said. ”They’re in your division. They’ve got a good team. They play the game the right way.”
While Fernandez hasn’t allowed an earned run in three of his past four starts, Wood has given up one in three straight and four of five.
The Braves just completed a three-game sweep of Cincinnati with Sunday’s 1-0, 10-inning victory. Freddie Freeman drove in Jason Heyward with a two-out single.
”You live for moments like that when you want to be a big league player,” said Freeman, who leads the team with 17 RBIs. ”You hear the crowd chanting your name and you want to come through. So it was a pretty cool moment.”
Freeman is hitting .344, but he went 0 for 12 as Atlanta took two of three from Miami last week.
The Marlins (11-14) return home after concluding a 2-4 road trip with Sunday’s 4-0 loss to the New York Mets. Miami has gone 2-10 on the road compared to 9-4 at home, where it is hitting .293 while averaging 5.8 runs.
”We’ve got to execute better offensively,” said Redmond, whose team managed just three singles Sunday. ”We know we’re going to get better and, hopefully, we can start that when we get home.”