The 20-year-old Hernandez (3-5, 5.84 ERA) came into the season with high expectations after going 4-4 with a 2.67 ERA in 12 starts in 2005. But it hasn’t been easy for him this year, especially on the road, where he is 1-2 with a 8.68 ERA in four outings.
“I know he’s a little bit struggling right now, but I think he’ll be OK,” Liriano said.
The 22-year-old Liriano (2-0, 2.96) won his first start of the season last Friday at Milwaukee after giving up one run and two hits over five innings in a 7-1 victory. The left-hander has struck out 37 and walked seven in 27 1-3 innings this year.
“That ought to be some entertainment,” Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire said of Friday’s matchup. “Something that you like to see is good young pitchers throwing the ball with good stuff. And people are definitely going to see two of them.”
According to Liriano, it won’t be the first time the two pitchers have faced each other. He said they were on the mound against each other in a winter league game in Hernandez’s native Venezuela, and he saw Hernandez throw 101 miles per hour.
“There has just been so much buildup around these guys,” Minnesota catcher Mike Redmond said. “Everybody talks about how great they are going to be and their stuff, and that puts a lot of pressure on those guys. As far as Liriano, we’ve been able to see he’s capable of doing it for a while. Now, it’s just a matter of him to get comfortable being a starter.”
While Liriano has never faced Seattle, Hernandez pitched against Minnesota twice last season. He went 1-0 with a 1.13 ERA, striking out 15 and walking one over 16 innings.
The right-hander would like to get back to that level of success after going 1-1 with a 10.80 ERA over his last two outings. Hernandez won his last start despite surrendering seven runs and seven hits over six innings while pitching with a twisted right ankle in a 10-8 victory over San Diego on Sunday.
The Mariners (22-27) completed a 5-2 homestand with a loss to Baltimore on Thursday.
“Our record is not where we’d like it to be, both home and the road,” Seattle manager Mike Hargrove said. “But we were able to turn that around this homestand.”
Seattle’s Ichiro Suzuki went 0-for-4 Thursday to snap an 18-game hitting streak. Suzuki batted .416 (32-for-77) during his run—the longest this season in the AL.
Suzuki is batting just .250 in 23 games at the Metrodome, his lowest average in any AL park.
Minnesota (20-26) fell for the seventh time in 10 games with an 11-0 loss to Cleveland on Wednesday. The Twins were blanked for the sixth time this season— tied for the most in the majors with Seattle and the Chicago Cubs.
Twins center fielder Torii Hunter is hitting .369 in May, the third-highest average in the AL, after batting .189 in April.