Livan Hernandez is doing his best to help make Ron Gardenhire's decision on how to make room in the Twins rotation for Francisco Liriano an easy one. Last night, for a second consecutive outing, Hernandez put the Twins in a deep early hole by surrendering five runs in the first few innings. Unlike his last start against the Indians, Hernandez didn't last to see the Twins make a competitive game out of last night's affair, as he exited after four innings and the game eventually deteriorated into an 8-3 laugher.
Had the Twins scored a few runs against Gavin Floyd, one might have tried to argue that Hernandez "kept the Twins in the game," but with the offense's punchless performance, there's no way to look at Hernandez's outing as anything other than it truly was: an awful performance. And such outings haven't been particularly rare for him this season.
In just four innings last night, Hernandez allowed 11 base-runners (one of which, in fairness, was an intentional walk). He surrendered nine hits, raising his opponents' batting average to .341 for the season, and was uncharacteristically inefficient with his pitch count, needing 80 pitches to get through four frames. The poor outing came in a game that the Twin really would have liked to win against a contending divisional rival, and also came in the aftermath of a brilliant start by one young starter and a solid start by another one. In other words, there is little excusing last night's pitiful performance from Hernandez, a veteran who should be expected to come through for the Twins on nights like this. Instead of giving the team a legitimate chance to win and move into first place, Hernandez turned in his shortest outing since June 12 and suffered his team-leading eighth loss. The Twins will now have to count on Scott Baker to help them win tonight's finale, and in doing so avoid making no progress against the division leaders in this series despite having won the first two games in exciting fashion.
The trade deadline falls at 3 p.m. this afternoon. As I've stated before, I don't expect the Twins to make any type of significant move to bring in outside talent, and that's alright with me. In my mind, the most important trade the Twins can make right now is swapping the utterly hittable Hernandez out of the rotation in favor of Liriano.