KANSAS CITY -- Perhaps the most encouraging aspect of Jose Fernandez's latest performance was that he required just 94 pitches to get through seven shutout innings against the Royals on Tuesday.
Fernandez has continually demonstrated that he has swing-and-miss strikeout stuff. But if he can get hitters to put the ball in play early in the count, it bodes well for a deeper outing. Fernandez had six strikeouts on Tuesday.
"I think he's going to have games where he strikes out more against certain teams," Marlins manager Mike Redmond said. "This [Royals] team is pretty scrappy. They shorten up and put balls in play. They rely a little more on their speed.
"Jose understands that he has limited bullets. He has to be aggressive, and the best way to do that is go out there and let them put the ball in play. He was able to do that. He got a ton of rollovers."
The 21-year-old Fernandez is on an innings limit of about 170 in his first Major League season. He has 97 strikeouts since June 1, which ties New York's Matt Harvey for first in the National League over that span.
"He didn't get a lot of strikeouts [Tuesday], and that's OK," Redmond said. "There will be other games where he'll strike out guys. When he can get through the seventh inning, that's a great effort."
Ruggiano ends 0-for-42 funk, has big day
KANSAS CITY -- Justin Ruggiano's offensive nightmare is over. The Marlins outfielder snapped an 0-for-42 slump in the second inning of Wednesday's 5-2 win with an infield single off Royals right-hander Ervin Santana.
Ruggiano had been closing in on the all-time record for consecutive hitless at-bats by a position player when he smacked a grounder through the middle. Shortstop Alcides Escobar made a diving stop, but his throw was too late to get Ruggiano streaking down the line. The modern hitless streak in one season is 45, held by Craig Counsell (2011) and Bill Bergen (1909).
With the pressure lifted, Ruggiano went on to have a 3-for-4 day, including a game-tying RBI single in the fourth.
"It was like taking a monkey off my back," Ruggiano said. "I'm just glad it's over and I can get back to doing what I do."
On contact, Ruggiano thought he had a clean single to center. Then he saw Escobar make a diving stop.
"Escobar tried to ruin my day," said Ruggiano, who kept the streak-breaking ball.
And if Escobar had been able to throw him out?
"I would have run all the way to the bullpen and just sat down," Ruggiano said.
Prior to Wednesday, Ruggiano's last hit came on July 6. He had a big smile as he returned to first base after dashing down the line. Teammates raised their arms in celebration from the Marlins' dugout.
"Did you see everybody?" Ruggiano said. "It was like my first hit."
Coghlan opens rehab stint at third base in Jupiter
KANSAS CITY -- Chris Coghlan, who has been out since June 8 with right calf nerve irritation, was scheduled to begin a rehab assignment Wednesday at Class A Jupiter.
Coghlan, the National League Rookie of the Year in 2009, was scheduled to play five innings at third base as the Marlins explore ways to get him in the lineup when he returns. Manager Mike Redmond said Coghlan could be back around early September if there are no setbacks with his rehab process.
The Marlins are well-stocked in the outfield, and Redmond said third base could be a landing spot for Coghlan if he shows well defensively at that position.
"You've got to figure out a spot for him where he can get some at-bats," Redmond said.
Stanton gets another day off 'to regroup'
KANSAS CITY -- With an off-day looming on Thursday, Marlins manager Mike Redmond decided to give slumping Giancarlo Stanton a day off Wednesday so he could get a two-day mental breather.
"It's not an injury thing," Redmond said. "Just giving him a couple of days to regroup."
Stanton arrived at Kauffman Stadium on Wednesday with a .237 batting average, 13 homers and 35 RBIs. He's tracking well below last year, when he hit .290 with 37 homers and 86 RBIs.
"You've got to find a happy medium between clearing your head and finding something productive out of it," Stanton said. "I've still got to be ready to potentially help us win later in the game."
Stanton can't find any one concrete reason why his offensive numbers have dwindled.
"You might tell yourself not to think too much, and maybe you are," Stanton said. "You might say you're not trying too hard, and maybe you are. There are so many things that can spiral out of a situation like this. And when you've never been in a situation like this, it's a little more difficult to get out of it.
"When you've had all the checkpoints that you've built for yourself in your professional career, and all of those have failed, you have to find new ones."
Stanton said the positive he can take out of his current situation is that when he's hitting again, he will be able to look back on how he battled through adversity.
"I usually like growing experiences, but this one I don't like," Stanton said. "But yeah, when I look back on this, as annoying as it is, hopefully this time is the only time it will be this long. You just try to find some positive out of it."
Robert Falkoff is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.