MIAMI (AP) — In a rookie season filled with impressive outings, Jose Fernandez may have come up with his best.
The 21-year old All-Star allowed one hit and struck out nine in seven innings to lead the Miami Marlins to a 7-0 victory over the Washington Nationals on Friday night.
“I think tonight was probably the best,” Marlins manager Mike Redmond said. “Watching the way he commands his pitches against a great lineup. He really was in complete control tonight. It seemed like he could do whatever he wanted to up there with his pitches.”
Fernandez (11-6) retired the first 14 batters before walking Adam LaRoche in the fifth.
“It was the first time that it came through the mind actually that I had a chance to throw a perfect game or a no-hitter,” Fernandez said.
He didn’t allow a hit until the sixth with one out when pinch-hitter Zach Walters hit a dribbler up the third-base line for a base hit in his first big league at-bat.
“It’s a tough way to lose it, but it’s fine,” Fernandez said. “The funny thing is he came on as a pinch-hitter so I looked back to see how he was hitting and I saw all zeroes on the board so I said, `It’s this guy’s first time in the big leagues.’ This movie came to my mind, `Perfect Game,’ when they send a pinch-hitter in. I was trying to make a good pitch, but what can you do about it?”
Third baseman Placido Polanco didn’t have a play on the slow roller that went about 70 feet and was hoping it would roll foul, but the ball stayed on the infield grass.
“I had no idea where it was and everyone yelled, `Run, Forrest, run,'” Walters said, referring to the movie “Forrest Gump.”
Fernandez acknowledged Walters after he reached safely.
“He gave me a smile when I was at first,” Walters said. “I tried not to smile back.”
The Nationals dugout also enjoyed the moment.
“We all got a good laugh out of that, he breaks up a no-hitter with a big smash, his first hit was a swinging bunt,” Nationals manager Davey Johnson said. “But he’ll take it.”
Fernandez, who lowered his ERA to 2.23, is expected to have one more start on Wednesday at home against Atlanta before he is shut down for the season. He has a 170-inning limit placed on him and he has thrown 165 2-3 innings.
“I’m thinking about being a bat boy after that,” Fernandez said. “Really I was going to ask if I can be a bat boy for some games because I don’t imagine myself just sitting in the dugout, I need to do something. I’m the guy that’s always moving around and need to do something. I don’t know, it’s going to be fun. It’s going to be different and we’ll see what happens.”
Giancarlo Stanton homered and drove in three runs for the Marlins, Logan Morrison hit an estimated 467-foot home run, which is the longest in Marlins Park history, and drove in two runs, and Chris Coghlan had three hits.
“(Jose) brings so much excitement to the ballpark and this team and you can just tell the guys really feed off of that and I think you saw that in the offense,” Redmond said. “It was fun to watch.”
Stanton hit a two-run single in the first inning and Polanco followed with a sacrifice fly to give Miami an early 3-0 lead against Dan Haren (8-13).
Stanton walked in the third and scored on a two-run home run by Morrison to deep right-center field for a 5-0 lead.
“It felt like I hit a rubber ball, nice and easy,” Morrison said.
Haren lasted just three innings and allowed five runs and six hits. He was coming off another short outing as he pitched 2 2-3 innings and allowed seven runs in a loss to the New York Mets on Aug. 31.
“I’m at a loss for words,” Haren said. “The way my season is going, two starts in a row where I can’t get out of the fourth inning, I have no explanation for it. I feel terrible about it from a team standpoint and personally I don’t feel good about it either.”
Stanton’s home run in the eighth completed the scoring.
NOTES: Fernandez is 8-0 with a 1.19 ERA in 14 starts at home. … Nationals CF Denard Span, who is on a 17-game hitting streak, was a late scratch to the lineup with tightness in his groin. “My groin tightened,” Span said. “It’s day-to-day for right now. I’ll get some treatment on it the next couple days and see how it goes.” … The longest home run previously hit at the stadium was Stanton’s 462-foot blast on May 21, 2012 off Colorado’s Jamie Moyer. … Nationals LHP Ross Detwiler will throw a bullpen session over the weekend with hopes of returning at some point this season. … Washington RHP Tanner Roark (4-0, 1.19 ERA) will take the mound on Saturday and face Miami RHP Nathan Eovaldi (3-5, 3.40 ERA).