Coming off his worst start of the season, the Seattle Mariners ace looks to bounce back against the slumping Orioles when the teams open a three-game series Monday night.
Hernandez (3-3, 4.10 ERA) was terrible in his last outing, tying a career-worst by allowing seven earned runs and nine hits in six innings as Seattle (28-25) lost 8-6 to the Los Angeles Angels on Wednesday night.
The 21-year-old right-hander is 1-2 with a 6.30 ERA in four starts since coming off the disabled list on May 15. He went 2-1 with a 1.56 ERA in three starts before straining his right forearm.
Hernandez is 2-1 with a lofty 5.82 ERA in three starts against the Orioles (27-30), but Baltimore’s lineup scored just nine total runs while losing the final three games of a four-game weekend series versus the Los Angeles Angels.
Seattle pitchers have been a rut over the past seven games, posting a 5.90 ERA. The Mariners, though, won the last two contests of a three-game set with Texas over the weekend, taking the finale 11-6 on Sunday.
Jose Lopez, batting second in the lineup for the first time this season, went 4-for-5 with a double and three RBIs to lead a Seattle lineup that collected 12 hits. The second baseman is batting .452 (19-for-42) with a home run, a triple, three doubles and 11 RBIs in his last 11 games to raise his season average 50 points to .291.
Lopez was in the No. 2 spot for the first few months of last season and made his first All-Star team, but has generally been at the bottom of the order since.
“The second guy in the lineup’s job is to take more pitches for the team,” Lopez said. “Taking more pitches for me is better.”
Lopez is 5-for-7 with a home run in his career against Erik Bedard (4-3, 3.67), who will take the mound for Baltimore on Monday. The left-hander just is 1-3 with a 5.73 ERA in four starts against Seattle.
Bedard, though, is coming off his best outing of the season and his first win since April 18, allowing four hits while striking out five in eight innings Wednesday night as Baltimore beat Kansas City 3-0.
Baltimore’s skid comes after it won a season-high six straight games. The Orioles lost the finale of their series with the Angels 4-3 on Sunday, when Vladimir Guerrero hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth off Baltimore closer Chris Ray.
Ray has blown four saves in 16 chances after failing to convert just six times last season.
“We were coming off a six-game winning streak and doing a lot of things right,” Baltimore manager Sam Perlozzo told the team’s official Web site. “We’ve been getting beat late in the ballgame with our guys that aren’t supposed to get beat. It’s tough.”
Seattle went 6-4 against Baltimore last season.