The Seattle Mariners ace will try to improve his fortunes versus Texas when the AL West rivals open a two-game series Tuesday night at Safeco Field.
Hernandez (9-9, 3.18 ERA) is Seattle’s leader in wins, ERA, innings pitched and strikeouts, and his record would likely be better if he wasn’t pitching for the league-worst Mariners (56-86). The 22-year-old right-hander’s 3.95 run-support average is second-lowest among AL starters.
Hernandez’s luck has been especially bad against Texas (70-74). Despite posting a 2.87 ERA in five starts versus the Rangers this season, he’s compiled an 0-3 record in those outings while receiving eight total runs of support.
He pitched another excellent game at Texas last Wednesday, limiting the Rangers to one run and seven hits over 7 1-3 innings, but wound up on the losing end of a 1-0 score.
“He did a great job against a very good lineup over there. After the first inning, he really got in synch with all his pitches,” Mariners manager Jim Riggleman said. “He’s had some real good games that he didn’t win, that’s for sure.”
The Mariners are 7-10 against the Rangers - with four of those losses coming in starts by Hernandez - entering the final two games of their season series.
Dustin Nippert outdueled Hernandez in last week’s matchup while filling in for the injured Vicente Padilla. In the opener of this series, Padilla (12-7, 4.98) is scheduled to return from the disabled list for Texas.
After opening the season 12-5, the right-hander has appeared to wear down in late summer, posting an 0-2 record and 6.75 ERA over his last five starts. After allowing three runs in five innings against Cleveland on Aug. 24, Padilla landed on the DL with a strained left hamstring as well as inflammation between his right shoulder and neck.
Both injuries have healed enough for the Rangers to activate him.
“I just expect him to keep us in the ballgame, that’s all,” Rangers manager Ron Washington told the team’s official Web site. “I know he hasn’t thrown to hitters in a while but he’s a veteran.”
Padilla has pitched well in four starts versus the Mariners this season, going 1-0 with a 2.52 ERA. For his career, he is 3-5 with a 4.86 ERA in 13 appearances against Seattle, including 11 starts.
Mariners right fielder Ichiro Suzuki is 19-for-34 (.559) in his career against Padilla.
The Rangers dropped two of three home games to Boston over the weekend, including a 7-2 defeat Sunday. They’ll travel to Oakland for four games after this short series.
“A six-game road trip and this is our chance to finish strong from a positive standpoint,” shortstop Michael Young said. “Hopefully, we’ll show we’re better than the last few games here.”
Seattle continued to play its best ball of the season by taking two of three from New York over the weekend. The Mariners, winners of nine of their last 13, rode Jose Lopez’s first career two-homer game to a 5-2 victory in Sunday’s finale.
Lopez is batting .343 (24-for-70) in the 17 games against Texas in 2008. He is 7-for-24 (.292) lifetime versus Padilla.