10/12/2002 4:30 pm ET
Hernandez ready for any situation
By Chris Shuttlesworth / MLB.com
SAN FRANCISCO -- Livan Hernandez has come up big in some of the most important games in his career, and he brings a perfect 6-0 postseason record into Sunday's Game 4 of the National League Championship Series.
To say he's not rattled by big games would be an understatement, but the coolness he displayed as he yukked it up with the press corps before Saturday's Game 3 was downright North Pole-esque.
Q: What will be the key for you against the Cardinals?
"I don't know -- you have an idea?," Hernandez quipped.
Q: Have you heard from Orlando [Hernandez, his half-brother] lately?
"Orlando who?" he replied.
The Giants lost the opportunity to sweep the Cardinals in Game 3 on Saturday. St. Louis won, 5-4, on Eli Marrero's solo homer in the sixth. Barry Bonds had tied the game in the fifth with a three-run homer, but Jay Witasick surrendered Marrero's shot.
San Francisco will attempt to take a commanding 3-1 series lead with a win in Game 4 on Sunday night at Pacific Bell Park. Hernandez said before Game 3 that he was ready to pitch, regardless of the Giants' chance to clinch.
"It doesn't matter to me if it's the last game or not," said Hernandez, who despite his postseason success has never pitched a potential clinching game. "A win [Saturday], everybody knows that [Sunday] is a very important game because it's better if you win in four games than in five or in seven."
Hernandez said this postseason has felt the same as 1997, when he was named the MVP for both the NLCS and the World Series, and 2000, when he pitched a gem to give the Giants their lone win in the Division Series against the Mets.
He faced the Cardinals twice this season, allowing four runs (three earned) on 11 hits in 7 1/3 innings July 17, earning no decision in a game eventually won by the Giants, 5-4. In the Giants' 5-3 loss to the Cards on July 22, Hernandez gave up three runs on 10 hits, again in 7 1/3 innings.
While Hernandez can be expected to turn it up a notch for this turn against St. Louis, he said his key is actually to not change a thing.
"I want to do the same thing I was doing before," he said. "Try the best I can and not make a lot of mistakes and try to win the game."
Extremely proud of his postseason record of success, Hernandez mentioned that before his Game 4 start in the Division Series, he heard someone say he had a 5-1 record. With a broad grin after tallying a victory in that game, he declared, "I'm 6-0."
Hernandez notched that victory with the Giants on the verge of elimination, allowing three runs while pitching into the ninth inning of San Francisco's 8-3 victory to send the series back to Atlanta, where they eventually won to advance to the NLCS. He didn't allow a hit until the fifth inning of that game.
"Everything is going perfect right now," said Hernandez. "It's good for the team because San Francisco last made the World Series in '89. I think it's good for the organization, good for all of my teammates and for the fans and the city."
Chris Shuttlesworth is an editorial producer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.