Coming off his first All-Star game appearance, Hernandez looks for his sixth straight winning decision Friday night when the Mariners continue their four-game road series with the Cleveland Indians.
After pitching a scoreless inning during the AL’s 4-3 All-Star victory Tuesday, Hernandez (9-3, 2.53 ERA) looks to continue the success he enjoyed prior to the break. The 23-year-old right-hander is 5-0 with a 1.19 ERA in nine starts since losing to the Los Angeles Angels on May 19.
In his last outing, Hernandez allowed one run and three hits while striking out seven in eight innings of a 3-1 win over Texas on July 9.
“He showed why he’s an All-Star,” manager Don Wakamatsu told the Mariners’ official Web site. “His passion is going to make him special in the game for a long time. It’s a beautiful thing to watch in the dugout.”
After going 26-21 in 2006-07, then 9-11 a year ago, Hernandez is enjoying the most successful season of his five-year career.
“I’ve been more aggressive in attacking the strike zone,” Hernandez said of his turnaround from last season. “And I can throw any pitch in any count.”
Hernandez is 2-1 with a 3.94 ERA in five starts versus the Indians (36-54), who won 4-1 in their first 2009 meeting with the Mariners on Thursday.
Leading off for the first time since May 16, Grady Sizemore(notes) had two hits with an RBI and Cliff Lee(notes) threw his second complete game of the season as the club with the AL’s worst record snapped a three-game losing streak to Seattle (46-43).
“We’re figuring things out,” manager Eric Wedge told the Indians’ official Web site of trying to salvage something positive in the final 2 1/2 months of this dismal season. “We have to think good thoughts and believe good things will happen.”
Though he’s batting a career-low .238, Sizemore is 6 for 15 (.400) in his last three games. He’s 5 for 10 with two doubles against Hernandez.
Ronny Cedeno(notes) homered and Ichiro(notes) Suzuki singled to extend his hitting streak to 12 games Thursday for the Mariners, who stranded seven and didn’t get a runner past second base other than Cedeno’s fifth-inning home run.
“The guys had three days off. The timing just wasn’t there,” said Wakamatsu, whose team comes out of the break on a seven-game road trip.
Batting .360, Suzuki is a .347 lifetime hitter versus the Indians and is 1 for 3 with an RBI against fellow Japanese countryman Tomo Ohka(notes) (0-3, 6.40), who’s expected to make his fifth start for Cleveland.
Still looking for his first win since 2007, the veteran right-hander has a 7.40 ERA as a starter after allowing five runs and five hits in 3 2-3 innings of a 10-1 loss at Detroit on Sunday.
Facing Seattle for the first time since pitching for Boston in 2001, Ohka is 0-2 with a 5.73 ERA against the Mariners.