Hernandez keeps mashing vs. Red Sox

July 18th, 2019

BOSTON -- There is something about playing the Red Sox that brings out the best in .

One night after belting a three-run homer, Hernandez smacked not one, but two home runs out of Fenway Park in the Blue Jays' 5-4 loss Wednesday night. He set a personal-best mark with 442-foot leadoff shot in the third, followed by a 382-foot blast in the fifth, according to Statcast, both off .

"That's fun to watch," Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo said. "He's got the power."

At first glance, the power hitting might seem like a mini-hot streak for the outfielder who has struggled offensively at points this season and entered the game batting .200. Take a closer look, though, and Hernandez has been doing damage against the Red Sox throughout his four years in the Majors.

Of Hernandez's 45 career home runs, he has hit 11 off the Red Sox in 30 games. Of those, he connected for nine homers and 22 RBIs in 20 career games at Fenway. Among those is a 441-foot shot, which he hammered on Tuesday off Andrew Cashner. Hernandez's success against the rest of the American League isn't really close -- up next is six home runs in 27 games against the Yankees.

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"I like this ballpark," Hernandez said. "Here, I feel like I see the ball better than anywhere. I just think I know the way they're going to pitch me. I just try to look for one spot and try to put a good swing on it to center."

An even greater differential is Hernandez's 26 RBIs against the Sox compared to no more than 11 against another team. Hernandez hit a home run off Rodriguez last season on May 30, 2018.

Wednesday marked Hernandez's fourth multihomer game of his career. He last accomplished it on June 16 against the Astros.

Whenever Hernandez faces the Red Sox, he said he expects them to throw fastballs up and breaking-ball strikes. In addition to being on top of his scouting report, Hernandez has altered the height at which he holds his bat, and he is feeling more comfortable at the plate since the change.

"He's made some adjustments," Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. "His hands are lower. He is controlling the strike zone. He's not chasing pitches up in the zone. We'll find a way to get him out [Thursday], and we'll face him again in September [in Toronto]."

This game wasn't just about the home runs. Hernandez had a must-see defensive moment, too. In the sixth inning, Christian Vazquez hit a line drive to center field off Nick Kingham that had an exit velocity of 101.7 mph. Boston's catcher attempted to stretch it into a double, but Hernandez fielded the ball cleanly and threw a strike to at second to get the out.

"As soon as he hit it, I knew he hit it pretty good over my head," said Hernandez. "I was just hoping the ball didn't go out. So I got the opportunity to throw him out at second. I try to make every play, every opportunity that I have in defense and in my offense. I made a good throw and I think that was a key [part of the] game to keep us close to the Red Sox."

Hernandez's surge in this series comes in the second half of a season in which he has shuttled back and forth between the Blue Jays and Triple-A Buffalo. He was optioned to the Bisons on May 16 and played 19 games there before making his way back up to the big leagues.

With a solid performance against the Red Sox (and one game remaining in the series on Thursday afternoon), Hernandez is hitting .267 with four home runs and eight RBIs in 30 games this month.

"That's awesome," Montoyo said. "That's awesome to see him. Those are the tools that he's got. He could be that kind of player."