O's right-hander David Hernandez has been looking forward to tonight's start at Oakland. And, not just to build on his first start last week, a solid outing vs. Toronto.
But, because Hernandez will be pitching in his home state in front of quite a few family and friends. He's from Sacramento, which is about 90 minutes from Oakland.
Hernandez should also get some time to see his infant son. His wife Rachel gave birth to their first child, Jayden Joseph in January.
"I'll probably need close to 30 or 35 tickets. By the game I may need even more than that.
"To me it's comforting knowing your people are there. I'll have cousins, aunts, uncles and that brings a comfort level. I was able to pitch in Anaheim with a lot of family and friends and did pretty well there."
Last year, Hernandez won his start at Anaheim on July 3rd, allowing three runs in 6 2/3. In a June relief outing at Oakland, he pitched 2 2/3 scoreless, fanning four.
The 24-year-old surprised some when he won the fifth starters' job over favorite Chris Tillman with a strong spring training. He said he was motivated when he realized some were discounting him as a candidate to be in the season-opening rotation.
"It was definitely a motivational tool to prove the naysayers wrong. I know I put in my time in the off season to work hard, refine my mechanics and come into camp in better shape."
It showed. In spring training he went 1-1, 3.00 and fanned 20 batters with just three walks over 15 innings.
Last Saturday he pitched a strong game in his first start of the regular season, vs. Toronto. In a game the O's lost 3-0, he went six innings and allowed six hits and two runs, throwing 98 pitches.
Last year the 24-year-old right-hander went 4-10, 5.42. Now he's back with the Orioles with a little more experience and hoping to have a real strong season.
"For me it's gaining knowledge from last year and being more seasoned, I guess, as time goes on. Just being more confident in what I know I can do."