The Seattle Mariners ace won’t finish anywhere near the top of the league in victories in 2010, but he’s making a strong case to win the award.
Facing the Toronto Blue Jays for the first time this season, Hernandez looks for another quality start Thursday when Seattle tries to win its first road series in more than a month.
Despite a 12-11 record and receiving the lowest run support in the AL with 3.20, the Mariners right-hander could receive strong consideration for this season’s award. Hernandez leads the league in ERA (2.35), innings pitched (233 2-3) and strikeouts with a career-best 222.
Opponents are hitting just .216 against him.
“When he takes the mound, something special could happen that night,” interim manager Daren Brown said of Hernandez after he threw eight innings of three-hit ball in Friday’s 3-1 win over Texas. “He’s good to have on our side.”
Hernandez, 5-2 with a 0.91 ERA in his last eight starts, will face a Toronto club that leads the majors with 233 home runs. He also will try to prevent Blue Jays right fielder Jose Bautista(notes) from hitting his 50th of the season.
Bautista, who is hitless in seven at-bats against Hernandez, would become the 26th player in major league history - and first since 2007 - to reach that plateau.
Seattle third baseman Jose Lopez(notes) has hit just 10 this season, but his three-homer game in Wednesday’s 6-3 victory was a career best and the most by a Mariner since Mike Cameron(notes) hit four on May 2, 2002.
Lopez is batting .444 with four homers and 11 RBIs while hitting safely in nine straight in Toronto.
In his last outing, Hill surrendered three runs and nine hits in a 11-3 loss at Baltimore on Sept. 14. He’s trying to win his first game since April 10, 2009, while with San Diego.
He should be careful pitching to Ichiro Suzuki(notes), who needs two hits to become the first player in major league history to reach 200 in 10 consecutive seasons. Suzuki is batting .412 versus Toronto (76-75) this year.
Seattle (58-93) last won a road series from Aug. 16-18 in Baltimore.