Even as a 20-year-old rookie, Jose Fernandez is putting himself in position to represent the Marlins at next month's All-Star Game. He can add to his case on Tuesday, when the Twins come to Miami to open a two-game set.
The Marlins, starting a six-game homestand, have held their own of late by winning 12 of 21. The offense is as strong as it's been all year, with sluggers Giancarlo Stanton and Logan Morrison healthy and back in the lineup. In their last three series -- against the Cardinals, D-backs and Giants -- the Marlins have gone 6-4.
"It's no surprise where we're at," manager Mike Redmond said. "But we're starting to play our best baseball of the year, against the best teams. Getting Stanton back and Morrison back, it's a big boost to our ball club. When they came back, we started playing better automatically.
"We're playing good teams. But you want to see what you have and you want to be able to evaluate your guys against the best. We've been able to play our best baseball in this past week to 10 days. It's been fun."
Fernandez (4-4, 3.05 ERA) also has played a big role in the club's recent success.
The right-hander is second in strikeouts and third in ERA among all Major League rookies. He has produced a quality start in each of his four June outings, posting a 1.65 ERA while holding opponents to a .158 average and striking out 29 in 27 1/3 innings.
Fernandez took a hard-luck loss in his last start. He held the D-backs scoreless through seven innings but walked two in the eighth and saw those runners come around when Cody Ross homered off reliever Mike Dunn. Fernandez gave up only three hits in 7 1/3 innings.
"He was great, he's a monster out there," Redmond said afterward. "He's 20 years old and he brings it every single time. It's fun to watch but it's frustrating we couldn't get a couple runs and win him that ballgame. That's a good lineup and he carved through them pretty good."
One of Fernandez's least effective outings came against the Twins on April 23 in the first half of a doubleheader at Target Field. He surrendered four runs on six hits in five innings.
The winning pitcher in that contest was Minnesota's Kevin Correia, who held the Marlins to two runs over seven innings. Correia (6-4, 3.87) will get the ball again on Tuesday, as the Twins try to move to 2-2 on their five-game trip.
The righty also has excelled of late. He owns a 3.00 ERA and 19-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio over his past three starts, spanning 18 innings. On Wednesday he limited the White Sox to two runs on five hits over 6 2/3 innings despite serving up a leadoff homer.
"It was a rough start, giving up the home run to start the game, but I was pretty good after that," Correia said. "I think I got a majority of my strikeouts with the curveball. I knew they were going to be aggressive."
Twins: Homer streak stopped
The Twins had notched a home run in seven consecutive games before the Indians kept them in the ballpark on Sunday. Before the streak, Minnesota had managed one homer in its previous six contests.
The Twins rank 14th in the American League with 68 homers this season, ahead of only the Royals. Josh Willingham, with 10, is the only Twins player to reach double digits thus far.
• First baseman Justin Morneau got a day off to rest on Sunday. The 32-year-old has played in 67 of his team's 72 games this season.
"He's not as young as he used to be," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He's doing fine. He's never going to say, 'I can't play.' ... He plays hard, he runs hard, he dives all over the place."
Marlins: Offense showing signs of life
The Marlins are averaging 3.1 runs per game this season, but 4.2 in their last 21 contests. Stanton has cracked four homers and driven in 10 in 13 games since his return, while Morrison sports an .828 OPS in 10 games.
"This group has continued to battle, and our pitching has been phenomenal, and hopefully that will continue," Redmond said. "We haven't scored a ton of runs, but I'm seeing some better at-bats, and good things, too. That's going to come. Stanton is going to hit, and Morrison is going to hit. We're getting the lineup all going together. That's going to continue to be a work in progress."
• Closer Steve Cishek is working on a streak of eight consecutive scoreless outings that includes seven saves. Cishek has allowed only two runs and struck out 12 in 14 2/3 innings over his last 16 appearances.
• The Twins' only previous trip to Miami came in June 2007, when they won two of three at Dolphin Stadium. Current Minnesota outfielder Willingham played for the Marlins in that series.
The Twins leads the clubs' all-time series, 5-3. They split the doubleheader in April.
• Correia's 6.52 career ERA in 16 games (nine starts) against the Marlins is his second highest against any team, behind the Phillies.
• Going 4-3 at Arizona and San Francisco marked the Marlins' first winning road trip since taking three of five at Atlanta and Cleveland from May 16-20, 2012.