Darwinzon Hernandez made his first start of the season for Triple-A Worcester in their Opening Day bout against the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp (Marlins affiliate) at 121 Financial Ballpark on Tuesday night.
The left-hander allowed two runs — both of which were earned — on zero hits, two walks, and one hit batsman to go along with three strikeouts over 2 2/3 innings of work.
Both runs Hernandez gave up were scored after the 25-year-old had already left the contest. After retiring the side in order in the first and plunking J.J. Bleday in an otherwise clean second, Hernandez ran into a bit of trouble in the bottom half of the third.
Under the assumption that he was growing tired on the mound, Hernandez punched out the first two batters he faced before issuing a seven-pitch walk to Brian Miller and a five-pitch walk to Peyton Burdick to put runners at first and second base.
That sequence prompted new WooSox manager to turn to his bullpen and pull Hernandez in favor of fellow lefty Kyle Hart, who allowed both of the runners he inherited to score on a two-run double off the bat of Lewin Diaz that gave the Jumbo Shrimp an early 2-1 lead.
All told, Hernandez ended his outing having thrown 43 pitches (24 strikes) and retiring eight (4 via groundout, 3 via strikeout, and 1 via groundout) of the 11 hitters he faced. He will not factor into Tuesday’s decision.
The Red Sox surprisingly optioned Hernandez to Worcester this past Saturday, citing that they want to see more consistency and an improved delivery from the Venezuelan-born southpaw.
When speaking with reporters from JetBlue Park on Sunday, Sox manager Alex Cora acknowledged that Hernandez clearly has the stuff to be a big-leaguer, but the club needs more out of him when it comes to his mechanics and approach on the mound.
“To be the big leaguer we envision, we need to find consistency and that’s what he is missing right now,” Cora said. “We can’t go with the up and down. He dominates in Texas and he struggles for a few weeks. We don’t want that. When he’s ready, he’ll be ready. We know he’s going to contribute.”
Although Hernandez will presumably not start again until Sunday if he is on a normal schedule, the Red Sox still want the 6-foot-2, 225 pound hurler to get plenty of side work in. They believe a starter’s routine will help facilitate this.
“The goal is for him to work in between starts or in between outings,” said Cora. “He hasn’t been able to do that in years. It wasn’t a comfortable conversation because we know what he can do. But the goal is for him to work with (Worcester pitching Paul Abbott) in between starts and try to be consistent.”
Cora emphasized the importance of a repeatable delivery for Hernandez and also indicated that the Sox would like him to throw fastballs up and breaking balls down on a consistent basis. By employing these strategies with Worcester, Hernandez could be back in Boston sooner rather than later.
“it’s just a matter of him being consistent, repeat his delivery over and over and over again,” Cora said. “And we do believe he’s going to contribute at one point this season. He’s going to be a big part of this team.”
(Picture of Darwinzon Hernandez: Billie Weis/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images)