The Washington Nationals are hoping their staff ace can help them bounce back from their first loss in 11 games.
The Nationals were pounded 11-1 by the Angels on Monday. Washington, which was coming off a 12-1 homestand, lost for the sixth time in seven games on the road.
Hernandez will try to reverse the Nationals’ fortunes on the road. The Cuban right-hander has won eight straight decisions, including Thursday’s 4-3 victory over Oakland in which he allowed two earned runs and eight hits in eight innings.
Hernandez’s winning streak is his longest since he won nine straight decisions for Florida in 1997, the same year he was named World Series MVP. He is on pace to surpass his career high of 17 wins, set with San Francisco in 2000.
Unbeaten since April 19, Hernandez threw 127 pitches on Thursday after tossing 150 in his previous start on June 3. Hernandez has led the NL in innings the last two seasons.
“He pitches the edges of the zone, that’s why his pitch count is always high. Once he gets strike one on you, he’ll get you guessing,” Oakland manager Ken Macha said of Hernandez. “Most of the time, he gets you guessing the wrong way.”
Ervin Santana will make the start for the Angels, his first outing since shutting out Jon Garland and the Chicago White Sox on May 23. Santana allowed just five hits, but was optioned to Triple-A Salt Lake five days later.
“He gave up five hits, so he’s got to work on something,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia joked. “But he was ready for the challenge. Ervin is not the finished product. He can still use everything the minor leagues is there for.”