ST. PETERSBURG - The won/loss record is what stands out for RHP Roberto Hernandez - 4-10. Those 10 losses are tied with RHP R.A. Dickey of the Blue Jays for the second most in the American League behind Joe Blanton of the Angels, who has 11. Those 10 losses are also the most by a Tampa Bay pitcher before the All-Star break since Seth McClung was 2-10 in 2006. Dennis Springer (1998) and Albie Lopez (2001) hold the franchise record for losses before the All-Star break with 11. Hernandez, who faces the Astros this afternoon, is not having as bad of a season as his record would indicate, according to manager Joe Maddon.
For proof, Maddon offers Hernandez's run support, which is 2.53 runs per game, the second-fewest among the starters to the 1.75 RHP Chris Archer receives. "Come on. That's what people have to understand," Maddon said. Hernandez is 0-4 in his last five starts despite allowing 18 runs. The Rays scored a combined five runs while Hernandez was in the game, and 13 total runs in the five games. "Starting pitchers are such the victim of run support, or the beneficiary, every game," Maddon said. "So he's actually pitched a lot better than that record indicates." Hunting baseballs Some of DH Luke Scott's recent success can be attributed to a conversation he had with Maddon. "I was trying to make it make sense to him and compare the baseball to prey, have the prey come to you instead of hunting the prey," Maddon said. Scott, an avid hunter, took a season-best seven-game hitting streak into Friday's game with the Astros. In his previous 21 games, Scott hit .373 with eight doubles, a triple, four home runs and 12 RBIs. He raised his batting average from .207 to .270. Maddon said the biggest change in Scott is that he's swinging at strikes and laying off the pitches out of the strike zone. Maddon joked that Scott might also be wearing night-vision goggles at the plate to better hit the prey coming his way. "With Luke, the biggest difference right now is that," Maddon said. "His swing looks the same to me. It's forceful. He's hitting the ball really hard because he's getting better pitches to hit." Passing it forward Maddon spent part of his Friday afternoon working with RF Wil Myers on outfield defense. Maddon passed along what he learned from Sam Suplizio, a long-time baseball coach. "It's so complete what I learned from Sam, so it's really important you pass that stuff along," Maddon said. "I feel strongly about it, and that's one of the components of the game that I really enjoy teaching is outfield defense." Maddon said he worked with Myers on the footwork needed to charge ground balls, settle on fly balls during sacrifice fly situations and balls hit into the right-field corner, where Myers would need to spin before making the throw. Testing the kid LHP Alex Torres had his first subpar outing of the season Thursday when he faced three batters in the eighth inning and walked one and allowed a two-run single to Joe Mauer. It was the first time Torres allowed inherited runners to score after stranding the first nine he inherited this season. It was also the third appearance in four days for Torres, who joined the Rays bullpen as the long reliever and is now one of four pitchers who are trusted with leads in the later innings. But the increased workload this week, which included his first back-to-back stints of the season Monday and Tuesday, might have played a role in Thursday's performance. "It could have been. I don't know that, but that's what you got to find out," Maddon said. "It's the perfect time to find out just before the (All-Star) break where you have a chance to give him a rest." Noteworthy The deadline for signing draft picks was Friday. The Rays signed 33 of their 41 picks this season. . All-Star jerseys and T-shirts for 2B Ben Zobrist and LHP Matt Moore are available at Tropicana Field and the Rays team store in downtown Tampa. . Rays farm director Mitch Lukevics said minor league OF Josh Sale is still serving his suspension for conduct detrimental to the organization. Lukevics said the organization still wants Sale to return.