Injuries to pitchers Victor Zambrano, John Maine and rookie Brian Bannister forced New York (29-19) to make three trades in as many days to shore up their staff. On Wednesday, the Mets sent Jorge Julio to Arizona to acquire Hernandez — also known as El Duque—a proven postseason pitcher
“All I know is, when I used to face him, he threw everything but the kitchen sink at you—curveball, changeups, sliders,” said Mets first baseman Carlos Delgado. “He’d never give in.”
Hernandez helped the Chicago White Sox toward the World Series title last year with a couple of clutch performances in October, and was traded to Arizona in the offseason. He also was a key member of the Yankees’ rotation when they won three straight championships from 1998-2000.
“When you bring a guy into New York, it’s New York,” Mets general manager Omar Minaya said. “I think he’s a proven guy.”
Hernandez, listed at 36 years old, has struggled in his first season in the National League, but is coming off a quality start in his last appearance for Arizona on Monday. The right-hander surrendered a run, six hits and tied a season-high with nine strikeouts in a 4-3 win over Pittsburgh.
“When he takes the mound, I feel you really have to kill him to get him out of there,” Mets center fielder Carlos Beltran said. “That’s the kind of competitor he is.”
One competitor the Mets have relied on is David Wright. The third baseman went 4-for-4 with two doubles and two RBIs in a 7-4 win over the Marlins on Saturday, after sitting out a loss on Friday with back spasms.
“He said he hurt his back carrying the Mets,” said Mets catcher Paul Lo Duca.
The 23-year-old Wright is 14-for-32 (.438) with three homers and eight RBIs in his last seven games.
His performance on Saturday, coupled with a strong outing from Tom Glavine, which included a perfect game into the sixth inning, helped the Mets avoid their first three-game losing skid of 2006 and halted Florida’s four-game winning streak.
The Marlins (15-32) will give rookie Ricky Nolasco a chance to build on his best performance of the season when he makes his first career start against the Mets.
The 23-year-old right-hander allowed three hits, including a solo homer, threw 87 pitches over seven innings and hit his first career home run in a 9-1 win over the Chicago Cubs on Monday.
“He worked fast and got quick outs,” Marlins manager Joe Girardi said of Nolasco, who joined the team an offseason trade with the Cubs for Juan Pierre. “When you do that, a lot of times you hit better (as a team).”
Nolasco entered the Marlins’ rotation after making 11 relief appearances. He went 3 2-3 innings, allowing two runs—none earned—and five hits with two strikeouts in his first career start during a 6-4 Florida loss to the Atlanta Braves on May 17.
Miguel Cabrera went 2-for-4 in Saturday’s loss for his fourth consecutive multi-hit game. The third baseman is 8-for-13 (.615) with two homers and seven RBIs in that span.
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