It took him 23 pitches to get the first three batters out in a scoreless first inning.
It was a little frustrating for starter Liam Hendriks. But it all settled in nicely from there.
Hendriks pitched beautifully into the sixth inning and the Buffalo Bisons bullpen held off a late rally from the Pawtucket Red Sox to earn a 3-2 win at Coca-Cola Field Saturday afternoon.
“They fouled off a lot of pitches that first inning,” Hendriks said. “It was a little irritating on the mound. … It was a little frustrating, but right after that one I started executing my pitches better and I think it got better toward the end.”
Hendriks got sharper as the game wore on and used fewer pitches each inning. He threw 18 in the second where he gave up his lone hit. Then came the third and fourth innings where he needed just seven pitches to retire the PawSox in order.
“He throws all of his pitches for strikes,” Bisons’ manager Gary Allenson said. “He keeps it down for the most part. If he doesn’t make a good pitch, he follows it with the next pitch with a good pitch. … I thought we’d have to take him out in the fourth inning with his pitch count.”
He left the game after 5∏ innings. He struck out four and gave up just one hit with no walks. He threw 78 pitches and could have gone deeper in the game if it wasn’t his first start of the season. That, Allenson said, meant a pitch-count limit of 80.
It was the third time on the mound this season for Hendriks. Although named to the starting rotation, he picked up two relief appearances as his spot in the starting lineup was washed away with bad weather.
Saturday was a return to normalcy.
“It was more of a challenge coming out of the pen,” Hendriks said. “I’m not quite used to that much, but now I can prove that I can do both. So now it’s just to keep pitching well and see where it takes me. … As a starter, for me it’s a little more relaxing. I can get into a groove and get my five days and do what I have to do to prepare for my next start.”
Challenging can also describe Hendriks’ offseason. So can crazy.
Last season, the lefty made the Minnesota Twins Opening Day roster but spent most of the summer with the Rochester Red Wings.
Over the winter he was designated for assignment three different times and claimed off waivers by three different clubs – the Chicago Cubs, the Baltimore Orioles and finally the Toronto Blue Jays.
As if that wasn’t crazy enough, Hendriks, a native of Australia, was married in November in Florida. The event was captured by TLC reality television cameras.
His wife, Kristi, was featured on the show “Say Yes to the Dress.” That episode aired in March. Stay tuned for Sept. 5 when “Say Yes to the Dress: The Big Day” airs with details of their entire wedding, and, perhaps, even Hendriks’ first go-round with pilates.
“That was an experience,” Hendriks said. “It was quite stressful at times just with doing interviews and everything like this. I’m not too bad in front of a camera so it helped me out. And my wife did a hell of a job. She loved it. … Hopefully they play me doing pilates. I think I did pilates for the first time and it’s going to be on national TV. It should be interesting. She does pilates and we went to the studio that she usually goes to. But I was better than I was expecting, which is always nice. It was a whirlwind offseason, but I wouldn’t take anything back.”