Trying to lower the Cliff bar

Cliff Lee vs. David Hernandez.

Lee: 0-1, 2.40 ERA.
Hernandez: 0-4, 5.74 ERA.

Lee: no walks, 13 strikeouts in 15 innings.
Hernandez: 19 walks, 20 strikeouts in 31 1/3 innings.

Lee: 3-0, 2.70 ERA lifetime vs. the Orioles.
Hernandez: 0-2, 5.09 ERA lifetime vs. the Mariners.

Don't worry. Patterns are made to be broken.

The Mariners lost eight in a row before ending the streak on Sunday. They fired their hitting coach (yeah, yeah, I know). There's growing speculation that Ken Griffey Jr. will soon be released, always a delicate and uncomfortable situation when you're dealing with a legend.

David-Hernandez_Black-Pitching-Tall.jpg

Just give him a gentle nudge when waking him with the news.

The Orioles might be catching this team at the right time - unless that's another pattern that could snap like Joe Theismann's leg.

Hernandez could use some run support. And boy, has he come to the wrong team. He also needs a victory, and fast.

Hernandez has lost 10 straight decisions. He won the fifth starter's job late in spring training, but it didn't come with any promises. He needs a solid outing to divert the front office's attention from the Triple-A rotation, where Jake Arrieta is 3-1 with a 1.67 ERA and Chris Tillman is 3-3 with a 3.49 ERA and one no-hitter.

Arrieta was scuffling early last night against Syracuse, but he turned in another quality start with two earned runs (three total), four hits and six strikeouts in seven innings. He also walked five, raising his total to 24 in 43 innings, and that's the biggest knock against him at the moment.

Tillman, by comparison, has walked eight and struck out 34 in 38 2/3 innings. He's allowed six runs and 19 hits, with four walks and 24 strikeouts, in his last four starts covering 29 innings.

Hernandez might be tempted to look over his shoulder, but that just makes it harder to find the plate. He's walked 19 batters and struck out 20 in 31 1/3 innings. He's also surrendered four home runs in his last two starts covering nine innings.

Tonight could feel like a reprieve after he's faced New York and Boston (twice) in his last three starts. He absorbed a 3-1 loss in Seattle on April 20, but he allowed three runs in 6 1/3 innings, his longest outing of the season.

A few more numbers: Miguel Tejada is 5-for-16 with two doubles, a home run and three RBIs against Lee. Julio Lugo is 6-for-22 with a double, triple and RBI. Ty Wigginton, Adam Jones and Garrett Atkins are a combined 0-for-12.

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