Halladay will take the mound for the Blue Jays (47-50) on Sunday against Hernandez and the Mariners (54-40) in the finale of their weekend series.
Halladay (10-4, 4.46 ERA), Toronto’s wins leader this season, is looking for his fourth straight victory at Rogers Centre, where he’s 6-1 with a 3.73 ERA. But the 2003 AL Cy Young winner has not fared well recently, going 1-2 with a 5.32 ERA in his last four starts overall. The lone win in that span came at home on July 6 against Cleveland.
The right-hander’s recent downturn began on June 30 when he allowed three runs and 10 hits in six innings of an 8-3 loss in Seattle. Halladay is 1-1 with a 5.82 ERA and .316 opponent batting average in three career home starts against the Mariners, and is coming off a stellar outing in which he failed to get a decision.
He held the New York Yankees to one run and five hits with six strikeouts in seven innings, but Toronto’s relievers couldn’t put the game away in a 3-2, 10-inning loss on Tuesday. Jeremy Accardo balked home the tying run, and Casey Janssen hit Alex Rodriguez and threw a wild pitch before yielding Robinson Cano’s walk-off single.
“I’ve seen some crazy stuff. I can’t remember ever seeing that,” Halladay said.
Since then, Accardo has allowed one hit while converting both his save opportunities. Closing in place B.J. Ryan, who’s out for the season with an arm injury, Accardo earned his 15th save after combining with Josh Towers, Janssen and Scott Downs on a three-hitter in a 1-0 win on Saturday.
Aaron Hill provided all the offense with a second-inning RBI single. The victory was Toronto’s first in five tries against the Mariners in 2007.
“We definitely played a great game as a team today,” Towers said. “We show greatness in pitching, hitting and defense at times. We just don’t always put it together. Today we did.”
The Mariners’ Jeff Weaver fell to 2-8 this season despite tossing a four-hitter.
“It doesn’t feel good regardless,” Weaver said. “It just didn’t work out today. It’s tough to deal with.”
After dominating while winning his first two road starts this season, Hernandez (6-5, 3.71) failed to get a victory away from Seattle for more than a month. In four straight road starts from May 30-July 2, the right-hander was 0-2 with a 5.54 ERA and .324 opponent batting average.
In his last road start on July 7, Hernandez gave up two hits over eight innings, walked two and struck out two in Seattle’s 4-0 win in Oakland. The right-hander has made both his career starts against the Blue Jays in Toronto, where he’s 1-0 with a 1.93 ERA.
Hernandez will try to avoid losing consecutive starts for the first time this season. He gave up three runs and eight hits in six innings of an 8-3 loss to Baltimore on Tuesday.
“I was frustrated,” Hernandez said. “Those guys gave me the lead and I couldn’t hold it.”
Ichiro Suzuki went 0-for-3 in Saturday’s loss to Toronto, but still is second in the majors with a .350 batting average. He went 3-for-5 against Halladay on June 30 to improve to .308 (8-for-26) in his career against him.