Hernandez, who went 4-4 with a 4.36 ERA in his first 12 major league starts last season, has already matched his win total from 2002. The 25-year-old right-hander celebrated his birthday by yielding two runs and seven hits over seven innings Sunday at Toronto.
However, Hernandez fell victim to a faltering Kansas City bullpen as the Royals suffered a 10-9 loss to the Blue Jays.
“Great job out of Runelvys,” Royals manager Tony Pena said of his early season staff ace. “He pitched well but he didn’t come out with a win.”
Hernandez, who has yielded two runs or fewer in each of his first five starts, is second in the AL with a 1.36 ERA.
The Royals ended a season-high four-game losing streak with a 5-2 win over Baltimore in Friday’s series opener.
The Royals also ended a seven-game skid against the Orioles, during which they were outscored 55-16.
Brook Fordyce homered for Baltimore, which had a four-game winning streak snapped.
STANDINGS (through May 1): Royals - 1st place, AL Central. Orioles - 3rd place, 6 1/2 GB, AL East.
ROYALS PROBABLE STARTER: Hernandez (4-0, 1.36 ERA). Hernandez will be making his first career appearance against the Orioles.
ORIOLES PROBABLE STARTER: Sidney Ponson (2-2, 4.80 ERA). Ponson has split his first four decisions, and is coming off a solid outing in a 7-4 win at Tampa Bay on Sunday. The right-hander yielded three runs and seven hits over 6 2-3 innings, striking out seven and walking one. Ponson is 5-4 with a 3.84 ERA in 10 career starts against the Royals.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Royals - Raul Ibanez, .323 avg.; Mike Sweeney, 7 HRs, 23 RBIs and 16 runs; Desi Relaford and Michael Tucker, 3 SBs. Orioles - Jerry Hairston, .307 avg. and 10 SBs; Tony Batista, 5 HRs; Jay Gibbons, 17 RBIs; Hairston, Batista and Gary Matthews Jr., 17 runs.
SEASON SERIES: Royals, 1-0.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Royals - 3B Joe Randa is riding an 11-game hitting streak. … C Brent Mayne went 1-for-3 on Friday and has just four hits in his last 34 at-bats. … OF Carlos Beltran and 1B Sweeney are a combined 18-for-40 (.450) with four homers and 10 RBIs against Ponson. Orioles - C Fordyce’s homer Friday was his first since last May 30. … The Orioles have scored first in 19 of their 28 games. … Baltimore will activate DH David Segui (hamstring) off the 15-day disabled list Saturday and place RHP Rodrigo Lopez (strained ribcage muscle) on the 15-day DL.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Royals - 8-8 on the road; Orioles - 7-7 at home.
INJURIES: Royals - LHP Jeremy Affeldt (finger), 15-day DL. Orioles - RHP Lopez (ribcage), 15-day DL; OF Marty Cordova (elbow), 15-day DL; LHP Erik Bedard (elbow), 15-day DL; RHP Scott Erickson (shoulder), 60-day DL; OF Albert Belle (hip), 60-day DL.