Hernandez handles Rockies with ease
D-backs righty pitches seven strong innings, allows one run
DENVER -- Tony Clark reached deep into his bag of quotes to describe Livan Hernandez's pitching style.
"[Watching him] you realize how much pitching is like real estate: Location, location, location," Clark said after seeing Hernandez pitch the D-backs to a 3-1 win over the Rockies on Thursday afternoon.
As for how Hernandez would rather walk hitters than groove a pitch down the middle of the plate and therefore has to pitch his way out of jams, Clark went with a household analogy.
"You realize that he's not going to give in and throw a ball down the middle. He's still going to work to make his pitch, even when the kitchen gets hot," he said. "And that's what he was able to do today."
Hernandez (4-2) put eight men on base in his seven innings of work, but just one managed to score as he pitched out of a bases-loaded jam in the fourth and stranded six Colorado baserunners overall.
"It's almost like he wants to get himself into jams so he can pitch his way out," second baseman Orlando Hudson said with a smile. "It's unbelievable."
"With him with the bases loaded, it's really unbelievable how he's able to make a pitch," Arizona manager Bob Melvin said. "He's very aware of what works for him and who he can pitch around to get an out, and he's been successful doing it for quite a while."
For example, in the fourth with two outs and runners on first and second, Hernandez walked Brad Hawpe to load the bases. Hernandez simply wasn't going to give the left-handed-hitting Hawpe, who smacked two homers Wednesday night, anything good to hit with righty Yorvit Torrealba standing on deck.
"You don't want to lose the game with one guy hitting a home run," said Hernandez, who retired Torrealba to end the inning. "You've got to be careful sometimes. I faced Torrealba and made some pitches and got him [on a] 3-2 fastball in the middle, groundball to the shortstop."
There are limits to that strategy, though, as Hernandez admitted. His four walks boosted his league-leading total to 33, a sum that is far too high.
"I've pitched like that my whole career," he said of working the corners. "It's the way I pitch. I get out of a lot of situations during the game. I've got a lot of walks right now, and that's not me. I've got to throw more strikes."
And the Arizona offense needs to score more runs, or Melvin is going to have to start looking into purchasing Grecian formula.
Arizona has not scored more than two runs in an inning since April 30.
"It's my heart I'm worried about right now," the manager joked. "It seems like I'm having to manage the same game every night, but shoot, I think it will serve us down the road that we've played in so many close games like this, so guys will be semi-used to it."
The D-backs got a run in the first off Josh Fogg when Eric Byrnes' two out grounder up the middle hit off Troy Tulowitzki's glove and bounded into center field, allowing Chris Young to score.
Arizona's second run came in the third, when a two-out throwing error by Tulowitzki allowed Hernandez to trot home from third.
"I was looking there at two runs and seven hits around the fourth or fifth, and I was thinking, 'Did we get our quota?'" Melvin said.
Turned out they just about had as they managed just one more run -- on a two-out RBI single by Clark in the eighth -- the rest of the way.
The third inning seemed to be Arizona's best shot at breaking out offensively, but after Tulowitzki's error, Mark Reynolds grounded into a fielder's choice with the bases loaded.
"It's going to happen," Melvin said of an offensive outburst. "I thought we'd get the floodgates going a little earlier there off Fogg, but he made some good pitches, too, and we probably made it easier on him at times swinging at some pitches we probably shouldn't have."
Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.