Washington is hoping that starter Livan Hernandez can shake his midseason slump and help out its battered starting rotation.
Hernandez looks to bounce back from one of his worst outings in years as the Nationals wrap up their three-game series with the Cincinnati Reds at RFK Stadium.
Hernandez was pounded for eight runs and seven hits, including three homers, in two innings of the Nationals’ 10-inning, 9-8 loss to Pedro Martinez and the New York Mets on Saturday. The outing was his shortest since July 3, 2002, when he lasted 1 2-3 innings against Colorado while still with San Francisco.
Hernandez had not given up so many runs since April 7, 2001, when he surrendered eight earned runs against Los Angeles for the Giants.
The Cuban right-hander entered August 13-4 with a 3.27 ERA, but has gone 1-1 with a 7.89 ERA this month. He said after a loss on July 20 that he was ”99.9 percent” sure he would undergo season-ending surgery on the sore right knee that had to be drained in May, but retracted that statement the following day.
Hernandez tossed his glove, cap and jacket into the stands when he was taken out in the sixth inning of Washington’s 6-5 loss to the San Diego Padres on Aug. 5.
Before Wednesday’s 5-3 win over the Cincinnati Reds, manager Frank Robinson said that Hernandez and John Patterson would need to step up to help an injury-plagued pitching staff. The Nationals, who placed starter Ryan Drese on the disabled list Tuesday night, and are waiting to see if Tony Armas Jr.’s sore shoulder will prevent him making his next start this weekend, could be forced to call up starters from the minor leagues.
“If they can get through their normal-type games, going deep into the game, we’ll be able to handle the weekend with the people we have right here,” Robinson said.
Patterson did his part on Wednesday, allowing three runs and 10 hits in 8 1-3 innings. Jose Guillen homered and Vinny Castilla doubled in two runs for the Nationals, who have won three of their last eight games.
Washington is two games behind Philadelphia in the National League wild-card race.
Javier Valentin hit a two-run homer in the ninth for the Reds, who lost for just the second time in six games. Cincinnati is 23-15 since the All-Star break.