Marlins' Fernandez strikes out 12 Rays in sixth straight win
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) Jose Fernandez was in top form for the Miami Marlins.
''I've been feeling so strong and I'm pacing myself the way I should be in the games,'' Fernandez said Thursday after striking out 12 in seven innings in a 9-1 win over the Tampa Bay Rays.
''It's time for me to learn how to manage myself on the mound and learn how to pitch.''
The 23-year-old right-hander won his sixth straight start for the Miami Marlins, striking out seven of the last 10 batters he faced and striking out every hitter in the Rays lineup at least once.
''He definitely locked it in,'' Rays manager Kevin Cash said. ''He had wipeout off-speed stuff, the fastball 96 to 98 miles-an-hour. We had our hands full.''
Fernandez (7-2) gave up six hits in beating his hometown Rays for the first time in three tries. He finished the game with 13.3 strikeouts per nine innings, highest among major league starters.
''That fever of striking out people passed a long time ago,'' he said. ''I'm just trying to get three outs and get my boys back in the dugout.''
His only real problem came in the fourth when two singles and a walk loaded the bases with two outs. After a brief visit from manager Don Mattingly, Fernandez got Curt Casali on a popup.
''Jose's emotional, and sometimes you have to just slow him down enough to let him ease back into it,'' Mattingly said.
Adeiny Hechavarria and Chris Johnson homered for the Marlins, who won three of four against the Rays.
Hechavarria's third home run drove in the final two runs of a three-run second inning off Rays starter Drew Smyly. Johnson made it 5-0 with his second homer an inning later.
Johnson drove in another run with a single in the eighth, one of five straight hits off reliever Ryan Garton in his major league debut.
Marcel Osuna had two hits for Miami, reaching base in his 33rd straight game, one short of the franchise record.
Smyly (2-6) gave up five runs and six hits while striking out four in six innings.
Brandon Guyer homered off Fernandez in the third, his sixth home run and the major league-leading 67th homer for the Rays.
ANGRY WORDS, ANGRY LOOKS
Fernandez downplayed a verbal exchange after getting out of the fourth-inning jam. Rays shortstop Brad Miller shouted something from the dugout and when Fernandez glared back, Casali thought the pitcher was staring him down. ''In that situation, you got me out. Get on with it and go to the next inning,'' Casali said. ''I wasn't happy.'' Said Fernandez: ''I heard something from the dugout, didn't pay much attention to it and just tried to do my job.''
Marlins: RHP Bryan Morris (back) was placed on the 15-day disabled list and RHP Nick Wittgren was recalled from Triple-A New Orleans. ''Obviously it's serious anytime you start messing with the back,'' Mattingly said. ''It doesn't feel like a 15-day thing. He's kind of mulling his options.'' ... OF Giancarlo Stanton (sore right side) was out of the lineup for the second straight game. ... OF Christian Yelich (back spasms) could return this weekend.
Rays: 2B Logan Forsythe (left shoulder) has resumed taking ground balls. He has been on the 15-day disabled list since May 14.
Looking to balance his lineup against the left-handed Smyly, Mattingly had Hechavarria hit leadoff for the first time this season. CF Marcell Ozuna made his initial appearance this year as the third-spot hitter. DH J.T. Realmuto moved up from his normal seventh spot to fourth.
Marlins: LHP Adam Conley (3-3) will pitch the opener of a three-game series at Atlanta on Friday night.
Rays: RHP Chris Archer (3-5) will face the New York Yankees in the opener of a three-game series at Tropicana Field.