Hernandez continues to search for his old form
PHOENIX -- D-backs manager Chip Hale knows it's unfair to think pitchers can come back from Tommy John surgery and immediately have the same success they had pre-surgery.
That's the situation the D-backs find themselves in with David Hernandez, who suffered the loss in Tuesday's 6-4 loss to the Dodgers at Chase Field. Hernandez gave up a trio of runs in the 10th inning, which included a go-ahead blast by Howie Kendrick to lead off the frame.
"For just so long, you grow accustomed to pitching and feeling fine, like nothing happened," Hernandez said. "But I know it's going to take time. But up here there's no time, you've got to get the outs before obviously they score any runs."
The D-backs right-hander hasn't been able to do that in his last few outings. Hernandez gave up just one unearned run over 3 1/3 innings in his first five appearances after coming off the disabled list in early June. In his last three outings, he's given up five runs in 2 2/3 frames.
After allowing the go-ahead homer to Kendrick, Hernandez couldn't keep it a one-run game. He walked Adrian Gonzalez with one out, then gave up a single to Yasiel Puig. Yasmani Grandal soon followed with a two-out, two-run double that stretched the Dodgers' lead to 6-3.
"They were hitting the ball hard everywhere," Hernandez said. "Just a lack of command, I've been fighting it since obviously I've been back."
The D-backs bullpen has a 5.40 ERA over the last seven games, but the struggles have been spread around. One issue Hale has seen from his pitchers is an inability to retire the first batter of an inning.
The Dodgers had the lead-off man reach base three times, including when Jimmy Rollins walked in the seventh and later scored the tying run.
"We're just not locating pitches where we want to," Hale said. "It's just not going to work out very well in the big leagues, you can't make those types of mistakes. We have to get better."
Hernandez said the issue for him personally has been trying to force pitches into spots where he hasn't been able to locate them. The right-hander has had success in the D-backs' bullpen before, posting a 3.42 ERA over three seasons from 2011-13 before missing all of '14 and the beginning of this year.
Hernandez said he feels he'll be able to return to that form as he logs more innings pitched.
"It's just something you've got to get the rust off, and it's unfortunate that you get thrown into a tight game, and there's obviously no room for error," Hernandez said. "But I feel confident, I feel good, it's just a matter of being able to repeat my pitches, my mechanics, and I feel like it will come."