ST. PETERSBURG — Roberto Hernandez had another bad start for the Rays on Friday in a 9-4 loss to the Yankees.
Bad enough that he got pulled after giving up five runs in four innings with manager Joe Maddon saying, "If we left him in, I thought it was going to get worse."
Bad enough to wonder if the Rays should have skipped him rather than rookie Jake Odorizzi this series or joke they'd be better off pitching the other Roberto Hernandez, who's still in uniform occasionally as a coaching consultant but is 48 now and six years into retirement.
But not bad enough, apparently, to lose his spot in the rotation.
"I don't anticipate talking about Hernandez," Maddon said. "I really don't."
Hernandez, whose next scheduled start is Wednesday in Miami, is 2-5 through nine games with a 5.73 ERA that is seventh-worst among American League starters. He has allowed at least five runs in five of his starts and multi-run innings in six. And he has given up 10 home runs in his 482/3 innings, more than twice his career rate.
"I guess the primary thing is just not throwing the ball where he wants to with any kind of consistency," Maddon said.
The past two starts have been acutely bad. Hernandez was pulled one batter into the third inning on May 18 in Baltimore, so that makes for these ugly totals for his past two starts: six innings, 14 hits, 10 earned runs.
"Little bit," said Hernandez, who was signed for $3.25 million to be an innings-eater in a rotation that would be without James Shields. "Keep on working and be ready for the next time. I will do whatever it takes for the opportunity to go to the mound."
It wasn't much of a night overall, in front of just 17,825 at Tropicana Field, for the Rays, who lost for the third time in four games, dropping to 24-23 and five games behind the American League East-leading Yankees. Plus, Evan Longoria's career-best hitting streak ended at 16, three shy of the team record.
Despite the win, it was a rough game for the Yankees. Rightfielder Curtis Granderson sustained a fracture in the knuckle of his left pinkie after being hit by a pitch, and starter David Phelps left with a right forearm contusion after being hit by a Ben Zobrist line drive in the eighth.
As large a hole as Hernandez left the Rays in, Maddon put as much of the blame on lefty reliever Cesar Ramos. Maddon's thinking was the Rays were swinging the bats well enough — even though they didn't have a hit at that point — that they could have come back from 5-0 but not nearly as much after Ramos gave up three runs in a nine-batter fifth inning that included two hit batters, making it 8-0.
"Their lineup was set up really well for him to do what he thought he can do right there, which is to keep the game in check," Maddon said. "I was looking for more than one inning out of him. I thought two, even three. I thought at least one time through the batting order — not in the same inning."
Ramos knew it, too.
"It's just one of those days that it didn't go my way," he said. "It's definitely frustrating."
In several ways.