Minnesota Twins Drought Ends for Gavin Floyd, Not Liam Hendricks
Futility was the common thread binding starting pitchers Gavin Floyd of the Chicago White Sox and the Twins' Liam Hendriks at Target Field.
Hendriks had never won a major league start while Floyd had not defeated Minnesota in almost three years entering their duel Tuesday night, June 26. Each was brilliant in his own unrecognizable way, rising above expectations against hitters poised for a big night.
Floyd was the better impostor, baffling the Twins over seven innings of five-hit ball in Chicago's 3-2 victory.
He struck out nine and snapped an eight-game losing streak against Minnesota, which had branded Floyd with an 8.86 earned-run average since July 11, 2009.
Hendriks, meanwhile, scattered five hits over 61/3 innings and struck out five. He paid for hanging a slider to Alex Rios, who belted a two-run homer in the fourth inning to make Floyd's task easier.
The quality start did not prevent Hendriks from falling to 0-5 this season, and he remains winless in 11 major league starts. The drought has not destroyed Hendriks' confidence. Not yet anyway.
"Eleven and counting. It'll come. I'm not too worried about it," he said. "I can't afford to be anxious. My goal is to go out there and put the team in a position to win. I feel like I did that tonight."
For the most part, Hendriks kept Chicago's lineup off-balance by aggressively locating his fastball, a game plan he has refined after being demoted to Class AAA Rochester in early May with a mandate to stop nibbling and start attacking hitters.
"He battled," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "He threw a lot more fastballs tonight. He pitched hard in, knocked some guys back off the plate. And he located the ball better. That keeps you in the ballgame."
But Hendriks continues to be plagued by long balls.
He has yielded 13 home runs in his career and at least one in 10 of his 11 starts. It is the most any Twins starter has allowed in his first 11 career starts since Kevin Slowey in 2007.
With the game scoreless in the fourth, Hendriks walked Paul Konerko with one out before facing Rios.
"I stand by the pitch," Hendriks said of the hanging slider to Rios. "If it was down, he's going to put a swing on it and maybe hit a ground ball and we get a double play out of it. It's one of those pitches you're not going to get back."
The White Sox added what became the winning run in the seventh.
Rios led off with an infield single off Hendriks' foot and promptly stole second. He scored on Alexei Ramirez's bloop single into right, which chased Hendriks.
Meanwhile, the Twins had a runner at third with one out in the first inning and had runners in scoring position in the second and third but failed to deliver the key hit against Floyd, who became stingier with a biting slider as the night progressed.
"This game is about pitching and about timely hitting," said Twins shortstop Jamey Carroll. "He won those battles tonight."
Carroll's two-run single off Chicago closer Addison Reed with two outs in the ninth brought the Twins to within one run. But Reed induced Denard Span to ground out to end the game with the tying and winning runs aboard.