It took Twins right-hander Liam Hendriks 18 big league starts to get his first career win. He needed seven more starts to get win No. 2.
To do it, all he had to do was outduel Texas Rangers ace Yu Darvish.
Hendriks allowed two runs (one earned) through six innings, and the Twins broke up Darvish's no-hitter in the seventh inning to score three runs and give Hendriks the win in Minnesota's 3-2 victory Friday in Arlington. In what looked on paper to be a lopsided pitching matchup between two international arms, it was Hendriks -- the 24-year-old native of Australia -- who prevailed for the underdog Twins.
"We hurt their feelings, didn't we, in Vegas?" Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We hung in there. Liam hung in there."
Hendriks has spent much of the season at Triple-A Rochester, and Friday's start was just his fifth of the year with the Twins. As has been the story of his career so far, Hendriks hadn't been able to translate success in the minors to success in the majors. He posted a 6.20 ERA in his first four starts this year, including a clunker last time out in which he allowed seven runs in 4 13 innings in a loss to Cleveland.
Things went much smoother for Hendriks on Friday, but he dug a bit of a hole early. He served up a solo homer to Rangers designated hitter Jurickson Profar in the third inning for a 1-0 Texas lead. One inning later, former Twins catcher A.J. Pierzynski drove in a run on a groundout to first base to give the Rangers a 2-0 edge.
The way Darvish was dealing, that two-run lead seemed insurmountable. But Hendriks kept battling with Darvish and finished six strong innings to keep his team in the game.
"He mixed his pitches decent enough and changed speeds with it," Gardenhire said. "You saw him throw some slow stuff in there and then throw fastballs right by people. So he added and subtracted."
Darvish's numbers were still impressive Friday, even though he was on the wrong end of the pitchers' duel. He struck out 11 Twins batters and gave up just three hits. But two of those hits were home runs, as Herrmann and Justin Morneau backed Hendriks with back-to-back jacks to help the Aussie win his second career big league game.
Hendriks will likely get a few more starts with the Twins this year as he looks for career win No. 3 -- one he hopes won't take as long as his first and second wins. September could also serve as an audition of sorts for 2014 as Hendriks attempts to make his case for Minnesota's rotation next year.
For one night, though, he can enjoy the fact that he topped one of the top pitchers in the American League to help his team earn a win.
"He did fantastic," said catcher Chris Herrmann, whose two-run homer in the seventh inning broke up Darvish's no-hitter and tied the game. "He left a few balls up. . . . But for the most part he kept the ball down. I think that's why he was so successful tonight is he kept the ball down and (was) really locating his spots. I'm proud of Liam for keeping the ball down. It worked out real good and it helped us get a win out of it, too."
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