If only Minnesota Twins pitcher Liam Hendriks could get that one win.
“Your thoughts go towards that,” said manager Ron Gardenhire before the game. “He’s been thinking about it enough himself, ‘I’ve got to get a win here.’”
He came close, but didn’t smoke the cigar in the Friday’s 7-6 loss to the Cleveland Indians. This marks 16 straight starts that the Australian hurler has failed to earn a W.
“Kinda one of those crazy nights again,” said the skipper, acknowledging that his team gave up a 4-0 lead. “We got a lead and gave it right back to ‘em.”
Things started off rough.
Shin-Soo Choo led off with a single to left, and Hendriks walked Asdrubal Cabrera with one out to put men on first and second. After a long at-bat, Carlos Santana lined out to left.
The next hitter, Michael Brantley, flew out to left to end the inning, but 27 pitches had already been thrown.
“We missed plays pretty much all around the infield,” he continued.
“We walked a lot of people.”
His pitch count had passed 50 by the third inning. He had walked Russ Canzler to start the second, and Minnesota native Jack Hannahan (Cretin, U of M) took him up the middle to lead off the third.
“That’s not going to help you go deep into games,” said Hendriks of the pitch count. “I need to go out there and attack a little more.”
Still a double play in the second and an astonishing catch by Chris Parmelee on the right-center warning track kept the Tribes’ bats at bay.
Hendriks got a little cushioning in the second with a Parmelee sac fly.
Pedro Florimon and Ben Revere led off the bottom of the third with a pair of singles. Joe Mauer was intentionally walked. With the bases loaded, Josh Willingham brought the former two home with a double (his 99th and 100th RBI of the season).
Justin Morneau brought Mauer home with a sac fly and put the Twins ahead, 4-0.
“You got a lead and you have to go attack,” said Gardenhire.
Hendriks didn’t attack.
The Cleveland hitters got to him in the fourth when Canzler hit his first career home run to left-center, bringing the score to 4-2.
The win appeared to be slipping from Hendriks’ hands in the fifth when Hannahan led the inning off with a double and Choo drove him in from first following a poor throw from center fielder Ben Revere, trimming the lead to 4-3.
With no outs and 89 pitches, Kyle Waldrop began warming in the Twins' bullpen.
Jason Kipnis hit a double near the left-field line and pitching coach Rick Anderson came out to calm the Aussie down.
ESPN1500 radio host Phil Mackey chimed in:
This is difficult to watch...— Phil Mackey (@PMac21) September 8, 2012
And his partner, longtime radio host and columnist Patrick Reusse, responded:
He's terrified of victory. @pmac21 This is difficult to watch ...— Patrick Reusse (@1500ESPN_Reusse) September 8, 2012
Santana hit into a two-three fielder’s choice that prevented the runner from scoring but put men on second and third. With two outs, Brantley was intentionally walked to get to…
Canzler! The guy who had just hit his first home run an inning earlier!
Canzler hit a dribbler, approximately 300 feet shorter than his bomb, down the left-field line. Plouffe picked it up before it went foul and had no play on it.
“When Plouffe picked it up, I thought he had a chance,” said the pitcher, “and I came inside and looked at the video and was like, ‘There was no way he was making that play.”
And just like that, the 4-0 lead vaporized.
Tyler Robertson entered the game in the sixth inning.
Hendriks would leave the game with a no-decision.
Two straight games Hendriks won't get victory after being posted 4-0 lead. #mntwins— John Shipley (@johnDshipley) September 8, 2012
“If he wants to get a win in this league, he’s got to pitch better than that,” said Gardenhire.
“You have to go attack hitters. If they beat you they beat (you) swinging—not putting guys on, not 3-2 counts with every hitter and that’s what Liam has to understand here.”
The hunt for win No. 1 continues.
“I’m not trying to think about it too much,” said Hendriks. “It’s going to come.”
All quotes were obtained first-hand.
Tom Schreier writes a weekly column for TheFanManifesto.com.