Liam Hendriks was eager to get back onto the field after blowing two leads on Opening Day. Really, Hendriks is always eager to get on the field. But after sitting two days with that bad taste in his mouth it’s no secret that he’d want to get back on the mound and get back on track.
Hendriks struck out two of the first three batters he faced, making it seem like his first save of the season would be a breeze. But two singles later, the Mariners had scored a run, and White Sox fans in attendance started groaning, “Here we go again.”
Except this time it was different. After a quick visit from pitching coach Ethan Katz, Hendriks struck out Mitch Haniger in three-straight pitches, and Hendriks had his first save of the year.
“The first one’s always the hardest,” Hendriks said. “Last year, the first one was a five-out, and I gave up a two-run shot to Ohtani, so at least I only gave up the one run.”
Despite the dramatics, Hendriks isn’t worried. He acknowledges he’s made some mistakes, and opposing batters have made him pay for it, but on the whole he feels good.
“Everything’s coming out well, it’s just a couple pitches here and there,” Hendriks said. “For whatever reason it seems like I’ve got to strike them out to get them out. That’s the situation we’re at now, but it’ll flip around.”
Hendriks has had the misfortune of some bad bounces. The leadoff single he surrendered was a little bloop that barely got by him. Last week, the two-run RBI he surrendered to Miguel Cabrera came on weak contact from a broken bat.
“I still got some really ugly swings on my breaking ball, which was nice,” Hendriks said. “They’re just, every time they put it in play, they somehow end up being a hit.”
Hendriks does have that “hardest” first save under his belt now. While one can never predict how the baseball is going to bounce, maybe by getting it out of the way, things will start bouncing his way.