'Emotional' Hernandez shines in return to Majors

Right-hander goes five-plus innings for win in first MLB start of 2016

'Emotional' Hernandez shines in return to Majors

ST. LOUIS -- Braves manager Brian Snitker hadn't watched Roberto Hernandez pitch since he went by the name Fausto Carmona on Opening Day at Triple-A Gwinnett in 2006.

He saw him again Saturday night, 10 years and one name change later in the Braves' 13-5 win over the Cardinals when Hernandez notched his first Major League win in a start since May 19 last season.

"I went back and looked at some reports," Snitker said. "He battled his way through and he has his sinker, slider and change. It was exactly what we needed for him to try and get as deep as he could."

Hernandez gave the Braves five-plus innings and allowed three runs on six hits with 95 pitches.

"He had the sinker ball working and he kept us in the game all the way until he came out," Freddie Freeman said. "He kept us in it and we got enough runs."

Hernandez sweats through start

A slightly arduous outing, but it's nothing Hernandez isn't familiar with in his journey through the Majors. He's now nine years removed from his 2007 campaign with the Indians when he won 19 games with a 3.06 ERA and finished fourth in the American League Cy Young Award voting.

"It was a little difficult, but I just tried to keep my focus and go out there and pitch a good game," Hernandez said through a translator. "That's really what I was focused on."

He has become a journeyman since Cleveland released him in 2012, seeing time with the Rays, Phillies, Dodgers and Astros over the past four years. He was also signed and released by the Blue Jays twice, unsure if he would ever pitch again in the Majors when the Braves signed him to a Minor League deal on July 15.

He made three starts in Triple-A before the Braves came calling after Aaron Blair landed on the disabled list, and Hernandez made the most of his chance.

"It's always a great opportunity to pitch in the big leagues, so I was very emotional to get the opportunity to pitch today," Hernandez said. "It was a wonderful experience and just keep going forward and make the most of it and take it from here."

Nick Krueger is a reporter for MLB.com based in St. Louis and covered the Braves on Saturday. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.