PITTSBURGH, PA - JUNE 21: Liam Hendriks #62 of the Minnesota Twins walks back to the dugout after being pulled by manager Ron Gardenhire #35 against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the game on June 21, 2012 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Liam Hendriks made an impression in Triple-A, pitching dominantly at Rochester after his early-season demotion. Unfortunately, the righthander keeps making the wrong kind of impression in the major leagues. Two defensive misplays put the young Aussie in bad spots early in the game on Thursday, and he pitched out of neither one, eventually allowing six runs and taking his fourth loss of the year.
Hendriks will not be too appreciative of Ben Revere or Brian Dozier; his young colleagues were the ones to put him into difficult situations. In the first inning, Revere took a running dive at a fly ball off the bat of Andrew McCutchen, turning a single into a triple; the next batter, Garrett Jones, hit a sharp ground ball that a diving Alexi Casilla couldn't turn into an out, giving the Pirates a 1-0 lead.
In the second, Dozier booted a fairly routine grounder to shortstop with two out, allowing the Pirates to load the bases. McCutchen promptly doubled to left center, clearing the sacks and putting the Twins into a 4-0 hole they never looked like climbing out of.
This is not to absolve Hendriks; he couldn't pitch out of either jam, and he couldn't avoid being bitten by the home run bug yet again, as Rod Barajas went deep in the sixth, a two-run shot that chased Hendriks from the game. The youngster has allowed at least one home run in each of his six starts, and has given up nine overall.
Jeff Manship also got into the act by allowing two home runs in the seventh. For the Twins, the only damage came courtesy of a Trevor Plouffe double off the center-field fence, a shot followed by an RBI single by former Pirate Ryan Doumit.
Pirates starter James McDonald pitched his first career complete game, allowing one run on six hits and walking nobody while striking out five. The win drops McDonald's ERA to a sparkling 2.19 for the year... In the sixth, Morneau singled, and while McDonald wasn't paying attention - who pays attention to the lumbering first baseman on the basepaths? - got what amounted to a walking lead and stole second base, his first successful steal in five years.... Late in the game, Ron Gardenhire made a double switch, keeping his long-running streak of needless double-switches during interleague games alive... Hendriks, making his first plate appearances in his American career, struck out and reached first on an error after the Pirates shortstop booted his fairly sharp grounder to short.
3. Trevor Plouffe: Hit a towering double, and was the only player on the left side of the infield to play competent defense.
2. Ryan Doumit: Drove in the team's only run, and made a nice play in a bunt situation by darting out from behind the plate and throwing out a runner at second.
1. Justin Morneau: Singled, doubled, and stole a base.
3. Alex Burnett: Forgot to cover first base on a grounder to first, which hopefully will earn him a beating from Tom Kelly when the team returns home.
2. Liam Hendriks: At some point, he has to keep the ball in the ballpark, right?
1. Brian Dozier: Has now committed nine errors in 40 games, one away from the AL lead, which is awful, just awful.