Hernandez Off to Strong Start

The New York Mets starting pitchers are off to an outstanding start, with veteran Orlando Hernandez leading the way.

Hernandez looks for another strong outing on Saturday when the Mets continue their three-game series against the struggling Washington Nationals at Shea Stadium.

Oddsmakers have made New York -1.5 point spread favorites (MLB Odds) for todays game, the over/under has been set at 9 total runs (View MLB Sports Books). Our public betting information shows that 74% of bets for this game have been placed on New York -1.5 (View MLB Bet Percentages).

New York's starting pitchers have a NL-leading 2.51 ERA, and have allowed three earned runs or less in all 10 of their games.

The Mets (7-3) No. 5 starter Mike Pelfrey allowed two runs in 5 2-3 innings of his season debut on Friday, a 3-2 victory over the Nationals in the series opener.

The reigning NL East champs have won consecutive games and are 3-1 on their current six-game homestand.

"It's very important for us to continue where we left (off) last year,'' said 48-year-old Julio Franco, who drove home the go-ahead run on Friday with a pinch-hit single in the seventh inning.

Third baseman David Wright scored the go-ahead run, and finished 2-for-3 to extend his hitting streak to a career-high 22 games. Wright is batting .316 (12-for-38) with three doubles in 10 games this season.

Hernandez (1-0, 1.38 ERA) has been the most consistent starter in the Mets rotation thus far, allowing two runs and seven hits in 13 innings in his two starts. The right-hander gave up only one run and two hits in six innings against Atlanta on Sunday, but New York ended up losing 3-2 after the bullpen yielded two eighth-inning runs.

Each of Hernandez's first two starts came on the road, and he'll make his Shea Stadium season debut with this start. He went 5-3 with a 3.00 ERA in nine starts at Shea in 2006.

Hernandez lost his only start against the Nationals last season, giving up three runs while striking out eight in seven innings of a 3-2 defeat last Sept. 22. He is 2-1 with a 2.25 ERA in three career starts against the Washington franchise.

The Nationals (2-9) scored two runs in the second inning to take a rare early lead on Friday, but it wasn't enough. Washington had been the first major league team since 1900 not to score in the first three innings of any of its first 10 games.

The Nationals, who have lost seven of their last eight games, have scored three runs or less in all but one game.

"We've got to get more runs,'' said first-year manager Manny Acta, who was New York's third-base coach the past two seasons.

Shawn Hill (0-2, 3.09) makes his first career start against the Mets as he takes the hill for Washington. Hill gave the Nationals one of their best performances by one of their starters in his last appearance, but his offense once again didn't support him with any runs.

The right-hander gave up two runs and six hits in 6 2-3 innings of Sunday's 3-1 loss to Arizona, and the lone Washington run came in the eighth inning.

Hill has not received any run support in his two starts, and has gotten one run or less in his last four starts dating back to 2006.

by: Michael Cash - thespread.com – Email Us

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