For the Miami Marlins, with the exception of former shortstop and third baseman Hanley Ramirez, it has been a constant struggle against teams within the National League Central division.
Milwaukee made that clear earlier in the week, as the Brewers took two out of three from the Marlins. The Marlins have consistently struggled against Cincinnati, the Pittsburgh Pirates, and at times, the Chicago Cubs.
However, on Friday night, because of a dominant performance by rookie phenom Jose Fernandez, Miami was able to take game one of a three game set with a 5-4 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals.
Fernandez Gets Shaken Up Early, Shows Ability to Recover
Throughout his first handful of major league starts, rookie Jose Fernandez has either been in control of the game or has been rattled early on.
Against a tough Cardinals lineup, Fernandez got in trouble early. Matt Carpenter singled to begin the game, and after Matt Holliday reached on an error by third baseman Ed Lucas, Fernandez gave up a pair of RBI singles to Allen Craig and Yadier Molina.
Despite the early struggles, Fernandez was able to quickly settle down. He only needed eight pitches to retire the side in the second inning, and was dominant from that point on.
Over his seven innings, during which he gave up three runs (two earned) and walked two while striking out ten, Fernandez appeared to have control of all of his pitches which allowed him to get ahead of batters early in the count. Friday marked the first double-digit strikeout game of Fernandez's young career.
Fernandez also continued to show that he could be a factor in the lineup. With two outs in bottom of the second inning, Fernandez contributed with an RBI single to center field that tied the game at two. Fernandez has driven in three runs on the season.
Miami's Offense Responds, Takes Advantage of Mistakes
Jake Westbrook struggled to hold on to an early lead, despite facing an inconsistent Marlins offense.
The Marlins were able to score a pair of unearned runs in the second, as an error by Carpenter led to a two run rally.
Greg Dobbs, who got the start at first base as a result of Logan Morrison being scratched with lower back pain, doubled which allowed Adeiny Hechavarria to score in the fourth, and Giancarlo Stanton hit a two-RBI double to give Miami a 5-2 advantage.
Although they scored five runs off of Westbfrook, the Marlins' troubles with runners in scoring position continued, as they were just 2-15 in those scenarios on Friday night.
Juan Pierre extended his hitting streak to ten games with a single in the first inning.
Miami only had two hits over three innings against St. Louis' bullpen.
Bullpen Holds The Lead
Aside from a two-RBI double that Chad Qualls gave up to David Freese in the eighth inning, Miami's bullpen was able to keep the Cardinals off the board in the final two innings.
Mike Dunn was able to strike out Jon Jay, and Steve Cishek retired the side in order to earn his eighth save of the season.