Hendriks still winless in major league career

  • Article by: JOE CHRISTENSEN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 8, 2012 - 9:03 AM

The rookie failed to hold a four-run lead against Cleveland and remained winless in 16 career starts.

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Twins rookie Liam Hendriks turned his head in disgust, or maybe it was disbelief.

Another squib hit. Another lead evaporated. Another easy road to his first major league victory now closed.

A little roller down the third-base line by Russ Canzler scored Jason Kipnis with the tying run in the fifth inning Friday night, extending Hendriks' nightmare.

The righthander remained winless in 16 career starts after squandering a four-run lead, and Cleveland went on to defeat the Twins 7-6 before an announced crowd of 30,111 at Target Field.

"You get a lead, you have to go attack," said manager Ron Gardenhire, whose bullpen gave up three runs in the seventh. "Sure [Hendriks] got a little unlucky, but [108] pitches in five innings -- there's no way around it -- that's too many pitches. If he wants to get a win in this league, you have to pitch better than that."

At 23, Hendriks is one of the most promising pitchers in the Twins system, but this is becoming excruciating for the Twins, bringing reminders of Terry Felton, who went 0-16 in 55 games for Minnesota, including 10 starts, from 1979-82.

As a minor leaguer, Hendriks went 38-20 with a 2.65 ERA. As a major leaguer, he is 0-9 with a 6.19 ERA. The 16 winless starts to open his career tie him for fifth most among major leaguers since 1920, a list led by Bill Caudill and Mike Mohler, who opened with 20 winless starts.

"I'm trying not to think about [that first win] too much; it's going to come," Hendriks said. "I'm just trying to keep the team in the game as long as I can and go deeper into games. I need to go out there and attack a little more and get out of those 3-2 counts."

On Sept. 1, the Twins built Hendriks an 8-2 lead by the second inning in Kansas City. Pitchers need to finish at least five innings to qualify for a victory, and that night, Hendriks couldn't get through the fourth.

This time, Hendriks needed 47 pitches to get through the first two innings, as umpire Dan Iassogna called a tight strike zone, but Cleveland was scoreless until the fourth, when Russ Canzler hit his first career homer, a two-run shot that trimmed the Twins' lead to 4-2.

St. Paul native Jack Hannahan lined a ball off the right-field wall to start the fifth, and then Hendriks had a run of bad luck. Shin-Soo Choo hit a seeing-eye single up the middle, scoring Hannahan. Kipnis hit a bloop double just inside the left-field line. Hendriks then got two outs and looked like he might escape.

But after he walked Michael Brantley intentionally to load the bases, Canzler hit his slow roller that tied the score.

"When [third baseman Trevor] Plouffe first picked it up, I thought he had a chance," Hendriks said. "I came inside and looked at the video and was like, 'No. There was no way of him making that play.'

"It's just frustrating to throw a good pitch, get some weak contact and the guy gets an RBI base hit out of it."

Eventually, Hendriks should get a victory, but he's sure having to work for it.

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