In a contest featuring starters with the top two ERAs in the major leagues, Hernandez and the Washington Nationals match up with Ubaldo Jimenez(notes) and the Colorado Rockies for the second time this season Friday night.
Washington (20-15) didn’t need effective pitching in the opener of this four-game series, winning 14-6 on Thursday in a game that was called after eight innings due to rain.
Runs, however, may be at a premium in this contest.
Hernandez (4-1, 1.04 ERA) had a forgettable 2009, finishing with eight starts for Washington after being released by the New York Mets. He had an ERA above 5.00 for the second straight season.
Still, the Nationals gave the right-hander a minor league contract in February. Hernandez wasn’t called up until April 11, but has taken full advantage of his opportunity, becoming a steady veteran influence on a young rotation.
Hernandez’s ERA is second only to that of Jimenez (6-1, 0.93). They were teammates briefly with Colorado in 2008.
Hernandez didn’t earn a win Sunday despite another outstanding start in which he gave up one run in seven innings of a 3-2 victory over Florida. He has not surrendered more than two runs in any of his six starts, and opponents are batting .187 against him.
The only loss Hernandez suffered this year was against Colorado on April 22, when he allowed two runs in eight innings of a 2-0 defeat, and fell to 7-10 with a 4.25 ERA in 26 career starts against the Rockies.
Jimenez struck out five in 7 1-3 innings to earn a win in that contest, five days after throwing the first no-hitter in Rockies history. The right-hander is 3-1 with a 3.06 ERA in five starts versus the Nationals.
Jimenez failed in his attempt to become the first Rockies pitcher to start 7-0. He allowed one run and two hits in seven innings as Colorado was defeated 2-0 by the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Jimenez has tossed 48 1-3 innings without allowing a home run, and didn’t face sluggers Ryan Zimmerman(notes) and Josh Willingham(notes) in last month’s contest. Zimmerman sat out due to a hamstring injury and Willingham was rested.
That duo has a combined 14 homers and 44 RBIs. Zimmerman is coming off a particularly impressive performance, hitting two homers and driving in a career-high six runs despite the poor conditions.
“It seems like the last week we’ve played in this (weather) every single night,” Zimmerman said. “I guess we’re getting used to it.”
Zimmerman had the sixth multi-homer game of his career, helping the Nationals win for the fifth time in six games. He is 8 for 13 in his last three games against the Rockies.
Colorado lost for the third time in its last four games at Coors Field.
A bright spot for the Rockies was the return of Troy Tulowitzki(notes), who went 2 for 4 with an RBI after missing two games because of a strained right quadriceps. The shortstop is 9 for 24 over his last six games versus the Nationals.