In his first start in 11 days Tuesday night, Hernandez will try to end his recent struggles by adding to those of the San Diego Padres, losers of 15 of 19.
Hernandez (4-4, 3.42 ERA) was 3-1 with a 1.89 ERA over his first seven starts but appeared plagued by something over his last five outings, going 1-3 with a 6.14 ERA. That turned out to be a back problem, and the Mariners (27-35) tried to help out their ace by giving him some rest following his last start June 1.
“He’s going to have six starts either way before the break, so it made more sense to take the cautious route and wait until Tuesday,” manager Eric Wedge told the team’s website.
Hernandez won’t be facing a very powerful lineup in his return as he takes on the Padres (20-41), who dropped two of three in Milwaukee over the weekend to open a nine-game trip. Their rally fell just short in a 6-5 defeat Sunday, as they scored three runs in the ninth inning but left the bases loaded.
San Diego stranded 11 runners in the loss and is hitting .191 with runners in scoring position this season.
“That’s been a problem for us overall, the batting average with runners in scoring position,” said manager Bud Black, whose team is hitting .229 overall and .247 while going 6-21 on the road. “We’ve got to do a better job, plain and simple.”
Hernandez has had success in keeping the Padres from driving in runs, going 2-0 with a 1.62 ERA in his last two matchups. He beat them 6-1 at San Diego last May 22, allowing one run in eight innings.
The right-hander has gone 0-2 over his last three home starts versus the Padres despite a 3.00 ERA, receiving one run of support in each game.
That trend could continue as Seattle was outscored 16-6 while dropping two of three to the Los Angeles Dodgers over the weekend.
Seattle had five hits in an 8-2 loss Sunday and is batting .192 with 79 runs in 25 games at Safeco Field this season. In 37 road contests, the Mariners are hitting .257 with 178 runs.
Clayton Richard (2-7, 4.58) will try to add to the Mariners’ struggles at home while attempting to rebound from a rough start. The left-hander gave up six runs - four earned - and 10 hits in 5 2-3 innings of a 6-5 loss to San Francisco on Wednesday.
Richard is 0-4 with a 6.57 ERA in six road starts, but he’s been very effective against Seattle. He’s gone 2-1 with a 2.16 ERA in four career matchups, allowing one run over seven innings of a 2-1 victory in his only start at Safeco on May 22, 2010.
The trip to Seattle might give Padres outfielder Carlos Quentin a chance to rest his surgically repaired right knee. Quentin, batting .429 with five homers since his return from the DL on May 28, will likely serve as the designated hitter.
The Padres have lost six of seven to the Mariners and dropped two of three at Safeco from July 1-3.
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