Although we all scoffed at the idea Liam Hendriks would be available on Thursday, he still came through with the save.
Liam Hendriks was done, at least for this series. Oakland A’s manager Bob Melvin had fired that gun too often, using Hendriks for 49 pitches on Wednesday’s Game Two victory. He had worn down towards the end of that outing, obviously out of gas, and needed a day or two to recover.
So, when Melvin stated that Hendriks would be available on Thursday, there was a good deal of skepticism. Yet, there he was, nailing down the save as the A’s advanced to the ALDS, and making history at the same time.
It was not exactly smooth sailing for Hendriks. James McCann led off the inning with a base hit up the middle on a pitch in the middle part of the plate. It would be easy to imagine that the worst case scenario was going to happen, that Hendriks was out of bullets.
More from White Cleat Beat
- Zach Logue yet another disappointing Oakland A’s trade return
- Luis Barrera heading to familiar foe in Los Angeles Angels
- Looking back at Ruben Sierra with the Oakland A’s
- San Francisco Giants showing Oakland A’s offseason could be worse
- Lucas Luetge what Oakland A’s need in bullpen
Instead, that base hit lit a fire in the A’s closer. Hendriks began pumping pure fire, striking out Yoan Moncada and Luis Robert. Even though a catcher’s interference moved McCann to second, he dispatched Nomar Mazara with a 98 MPH four seam fastball on the inside corner, ending the White Sox rally.
This is the type of performance that the A’s have come to expect from Hendriks. He had emerged as a dominant force over the past two seasons, combining for a 1.79 ERA and a 0.897 WHiP in his 110.1 innings, striking out 161 batters with 24 walks. He has become one of the best closers in the game seemingly out of nowhere.
Frankly, this is exactly what Melvin had hoped for. He needed Hendriks to be able to dominate in the ninth inning, closing out the series and helping the A’s advance. If he had struggled, or blown the save, the offseason may have been spent wondering why he was summoned for two innings in Game Two.
Liam Hendriks gave the Oakland A’s exactly what they needed. Along the way, he made history as well.