The Miami Marlins were facing a hot Jake Westbrook and the best-in-the-league St. Louis Cardinals. Jose Fernandez was on the mound for the Fish, but he immediately began struggling in the first inning, giving up two runs three singles and a crucial Ed Lucas error before escaping the first inning. The start to tonight's game had all the makings of another disappointing evening for the Fish.
But Fernandez and Giancarlo Stanton did not allow that to be the case. The Fish scored two runs in the second inning to tie the game back up, as Jeff Mathis drives in a run with a ground out and Fernandez followed with a single to help his own cause.
For the remaining five innings, that was all the Marlins needed to do to stay in the game, as Fernandez shut down the Cardinals through seven innings. After giving up the two early runs, he settled down and struck out 10 batters while walking just two and giving up just one unearned run. Fernandez was throwing his fastball at an average of close to 96 mph on the evening, but it was his curveball that dominated Cardinals hitters all evening. He dropped 44 curves on the night and induced eight swings and misses. Overall, Cardinals hitters swung and missed on 12 of his 104 total pitches, an 11.5 percent rate.
More importantly, perhaps, was that Fernandez even threw that many pitches, as the Marlins have begun expanding his pitch limit. That may mean that the team can squeeze more innings out of the effective Fernandez, who has quickly assumed the position as the team's best pitcher.
Fernandez may have only needed two runs to keep the game close, but the Fish tried to get their offense going in the fourth and fifth innings. Greg Dobbs delivered one run in the fifth off a double that gave the Fish the lead. Stanton added to the total with a two-run double. That gave the Marlins a 5-2 lead by the end of the fifth inning. It was also one of two Stanton doubles, as the slugger went 3-for-4 on the evening.
The game was not necessarily easy, as the Cardinals scored an extra run off of the Marlins' bullpen, but Steve Cishek came in and delivered his eighth save of the season and the Marlins took the opener 5-4.