MINNEAPOLIS — Prior to Friday, no Twins pitcher had struck out eight batters in a game. Right-hander Liam Hendriks finally ended that drought — as a reliever.
Hendriks pitched 4 2/3 innings and struck out eight in Friday’s 12-6 loss to the Cleveland Indians. Minnesota needed help early from its bullpen after starter Pedro Hernandez lasted just 1 2/3 innings. Shairon Martis came in and got seven outs for the Twins before Hendriks got his work in.
While Hendriks allowed five runs on eight hits and two walks, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire felt Hendriks’ numbers didn’t indicate the quality of his relief outing.
“He did a really nice job,” Gardenhire said. “You look at his numbers, he threw the ball great. He gave us a great effort tonight. Good fastball, good breaking ball. Kind of what you’re hoping for.
“He did everything he was supposed to and his numbers were terrible. Unjustified.”
Hendriks spent most of the season with Triple-A Rochester but made eight starts and now two relief appearances for Minnesota. As a starter, Hendriks was 1-3 with a 6.87 ERA. The 24-year-old Australia native hasn’t been able to translate his minor league success to the majors.
Friday, Hendriks was a victim of some bad luck. Right fielder Ryan Doumit couldn’t make the play on a shallow fly to right with two outs in the fifth, and Cleveland scored a pair of runs as a result. Hendriks also served up a two-run home run to Drew Stubbs in the ninth, but Stubbs appeared to have been out on a check swing for strike three that wasn’t called.
After the game, Hendriks and Gardenhire weren’t making any excuses for the four runs that probably shouldn’t have scored.
“It happens,” Hendriks said, shrugging off his misfortune. “I know the guys out there are busting their ass and trying to make every play. It happens. It’s one of those things that happens. Hopefully we can knock them out the next two and finish the season on a high.”
Added Gardenhire: “That’s unfortunate, but you can’t blame it on the umpires after we play the way we did.”
Pinto leaves with bruised hand: Twins catcher Josmil Pinto left Friday’s game after the fourth inning after he was hit by a pitch from Indians starter Corey Kluber. Pinto took a pitch off his hand with two outs in the fourth inning but stayed in the game to take his base. After the end of the inning, though, Pinto was replaced at catcher by Chris Herrmann.
Precautionary X-rays on Pinto’s hand were negative, and he was diagnosed with a bruised hand. He’s listed as day-to-day.
“Scary. He was a little sore,” Gardenhire said. “He should be fine.”
The 24-year-old Pinto has been one of the bright spots in the late part of the season for the Twins. With another hit in Friday’s game, Pinto is now batting .342 with four home runs and 12 RBI in just 21 games in the majors. The young catcher showed Thursday that he has power to all fields as his fourth home run of the season went to the opposite field to the seats in right.
“He’s strong. . . . He has strength to be able to drive the ball to the opposite field,” Twins general manager Terry Ryan said Friday. “I was very happy to see that. I wish we would have come back and won that game, but unfortunately too little too late. He has that type of ability. We finally saw some of that power that he can go to the opposite field.”
More strikeouts: The Twins struck out a total of 10 times in Friday’s loss to Cleveland, bringing their season total to 1,401. That mark passes the 2001 Milwaukee Brewers (1,399) for the third-most strikeouts in a season in major league history. Amazingly enough, Minnesota doesn’t even lead the American League in strikeouts this season. That dubious honor falls to the Houston Astros, who have fanned 1,511 times.
The 10 strikeouts by the Twins on Friday marked the 64th time this season — or 40 percent of their games — they struck out 10 or more times in a game this year.
Fan appreciation weekend: For the final three games of the season, the Twins will honor the fans at Target Field as a part of Fan Appreciation Weekend. During Friday’s game, random sections in the park were given free food, purchased for them by the players. As the Twins ran onto the field to start the game, they threw autographed baseballs into the stands.
During Friday’s game, the Twins tweeted a handful of giveaways for whichever fan could be the first to locate a team representative at various locations throughout the ballpark. The prizes included a number of autographed baseballs, hats and bats.
On Sunday, a handful of lucky fans will win the jerseys off the Twins’ backs after the game. All fans 14 and under will receive a raffle ticket upon entry and the winners will be drawn during Sunday’s season finale.