It wasn’t fair for Chris Hernandez; former NL MVPs with 250 million dollar contracts aren’t supposed to be in Triple-A.
But that’s exactly what Hernandez, a 25 year old pitcher on the Pawtucket Red Sox, had to face when Joey Votto stepped up to the plate in the seventh inning of tonight’s Louisville-Pawtucket game. Hernandez had a no-hitter at the time. Two pitches later, he didn’t.
As he’s done exactly 1,034 times in the major leagues, Votto smacked a base hit, a single up the middle, putting an obtrusive “1” in the hit column of the Pawtucket scoreboard.
Hernandez didn’t appear to be shaken by the loss of his no-hit bid though. He proceeded to strike out Chris Nelson and then induced a double play off the bat of Felix Perez to end the inning. After another strikeout and a walk in the eighth, he was replaced by reliever John Ely. It was Hernandez’s best start of the year: 7.1 innings, one, run nine strikeouts, two walks, and just the lone hit.
This was the high point of what has been a bounce-back campaign for Hernandez. After a disappointing season in which he was lit up to a 4.72 ERA across two levels and subsequently lost his rotation spot, the former 7th round draft pick owns a 3.16 Earned Run Average through 15 games (6 starts) and 51 1/3 innings. He’s proven himself to work best out of the rotation, with a 2.88 ERA and 1.14 WHIP as a starter.
Rather than be infuriated by Votto’s 7th inning single, Hernandez actually sounded rather respectful and genial.
““If you’re going to lose a no-hitter, it’s not too bad to lose it to a guy like Joey Votto,” he told MILB.com’s Sam Dykstra after the game.
That may be because the 7th rounder got the best of Votto, who was on minor league rehab assignment as he returns from a knee injury, earlier in the game. He set down the four time All Star on strikes in the first and got him to fly out in the fourth.
Recently promoted 2B/OF Mookie Betts, meanwhile, went one for three with a pair of walks while playing center field.