The Miami Marlins haven’t won since they last gave the ball to Jose Fernandez.
Doing it again versus the Philadelphia Phillies may be just what they need to stop their slide.
Fernandez looks to continue his dazzling start to the season Friday night by continuing his dominance of the Phillies and send them to an 0-4 start at home for the first time in seven years.
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Miami (5-5) has been outscored 26-10 while losing four games in a row after Fernandez (2-0, 0.71 ERA) dominated San Diego in a 5-0 win Saturday. The ace and reigning NL Rookie of the Year held the Padres to three hits while striking out eight in 6 2-3 innings.
"He’s such a great competitor," manager Mike Redmond told the team’s official website. "He wasn’t as sharp as I’ve seen. But his stuff is so good, he still has the ability to make his pitches when he needs to."
Fernandez certainly did that in three meetings against Philadelphia (3-6), going 1-0 while allowing one run in 18 innings. The right-hander was particularly dominant in his only career visit to hitter-friendly Citizens Bank Park on May 4, fanning nine batters and yielding one hit in seven innings of a 2-0 victory.
Having an extra day off may also help Fernandez extend his mastery of Philadelphia. He’s won all three of his starts after getting at least six days of rest, compiling a 1.45 ERA and 41 strikeouts in 31 innings.
"I don’t prefer those off-days," Fernandez said. "I like being every five days. But, for sure, it helps you get an extra day to rest your arm, and you’re going to feel better."
The Marlins have mustered 10 runs and a .200 average over the past four games after a 7-1 defeat to Washington on Thursday in which they had three hits.
Marcell Ozuna hit his second homer of the season in that matchup, and he’s batting .333 through 10 games. Like Fernandez, Ozuna has found success early in his career against the Phillies, hitting .375 with one homer and six RBIs in 10 games. That includes a .393 average with 11 hits – seven for extra bases – and five RBIs in seven games at Philadelphia.
Giancarlo Stanton has homered on two of his five hits over his last five games at Citizens Bank Park.
The Marlins, though, have dropped 10 of 13 games there.
The Phillies have lost four in a row overall after being swept in a three-game set by Milwaukee to open their home schedule, falling 6-2 on Thursday. They haven’t opened a season 0-4 at home since 2007.
"The good news is they are leaving town," manager Ryne Sandberg said. "Now we have to concentrate on gaining some momentum starting (Friday)."
Improvement from A.J. Burnett (0-1, 3.86) could go a long way in doing that. He’s looking to redeem himself after surrendering eight runs – four earned – with six walks in 5 2-3 innings of an 8-3 road defeat to the Chicago Cubs.
"I just didn’t get it done," the right-hander said. "I was pitching behind. I missed first pitches. The key was throwing strikes. That was embarrassing. I don’t care who you are, that is unacceptable."
Burnett has a 1.29 ERA while splitting two career starts against the Marlins.
Marlon Byrd has four hits and five RBIs in three games after hitting a homer and plating two runs Thursday. However, he’s 0 for 4 with three strikeouts versus Fernandez.