The first three weeks of the 2020 MLB season have been full of action for our Aussie representatives, with WA's Liam Hendriks collecting five saves and a win as a standout closer for the Oakland Athletics and Victorian Lewis Thorpe continuing his pitching career with the Minnesota Twins. Here's the latest news on how the Aussies are progressing on the biggest stage in baseball.
Liam Hendriks recorded his fifth save of the season in Oakland’s 3-1 win over Houston on Sunday, 9 August.
The win extended the A’s winning streak to eight games, off the back of a strong outing by starting pitcher Frankie Montas.
Montas pitched seven scoreless innings, limiting the damage of the Astros to just two hits in his time on the mound.
Jake Diekman tossed a scoreless eighth ahead of Hendriks entering in the ninth, and despite allowing a run, the West Australian still recorded the save.
Kyle Tucker started the ninth with a double off Hendriks and scored on a one-out single from Alex Bregman.
But Hendriks hit back, striking out Michael Brantley ahead of Yuli Gurriel grounding out to end the contest.
A lead-off home run to Marcus Semien in the first set the tone of the A’s offence as Matt Chapman drove in a run in the sixth and provided insurance with his third homer of the year in the bottom of the eighth.
Hendriks worked another scoreless inning on Thursday, 13 August in Oakland’s 8-4 win, ending their three-game series against the Los Angeles Angels on a high note.
The right-hander struck out Albert Pujols and Jason Castro and did not allow a baserunner in a non-save position as the A’s returned to the winners list after dropping the past two against the Angels on the back of a nine-game winning streak.
Hendriks retired Shohei Ohtani on a fly out to start the ninth and used 13 pitches to navigate the frame.
By Oakland scoring three runs at the top of the eighth to push its lead to four, it took away the opportunity for Hendriks to record a sixth save of the season.
Hendriks’ ERA fell to 1.93 after the scoreless outing in his ninth appearance of the 2020 season.
Oakland will be a bridge away from home this weekend, in San Francisco for a three-game series with the Giants before a four-game series against Arizona from Tuesday to round out the week.
Follow Oakland’s season on the official MLB website here.
Lewis Thorpe took his first loss of the season on Saturday, 8 August as Minnesota went down to Kansas City, 9-6.
The left-hander came in through the fourth inning and failed to register an out as his day ended quickly with three hits and three earned runs, including a home run to Nicky Lopez.
After Thorpe’s time on the mound, a three-run homer to Jorge Soler and a second solo homer to Salvador Perez was enough to cancel out Minnesota’s run of scoring at the top of fourth, which they couldn’t recover enough from.
Thorpe entered the game on Thursday, 13 August and threw two scoreless innings in Minnesota’s 12-2 win over Milwaukee. The Victorian bounced back well against the Brewers after being tested through his previous outings.
Thorpe gave up two hits and struck out Keston Hiura in the eighth before punching out Omar Narvaez to finish the game. The 24-year-old worked around a lead-off double in the ninth to produce a scoreless outing.
Thorpe took 30 pitches – 21 of them strikes – to record his six outs, his ERA dropping from 6.23 to 5.06 in the process.
Every member of the Twins lineup recorded a hit as the team racked up 15 in total. Bryan Buxton had a pair of solo homers while starting pitcher Kenta Maeda retired 17 of the first 18 batters he faced.
Prior to this win over the Brewers, Minnesota had dropped five of its last six games as the Twins now focus their attention to hosting Kansas City across the weekend, a side they dropped a three-game series to just last week. From Wednesday, the Twins will host the Brewers.
So far this season Thorpe has pitched 10.2 innings in five appearances with a 1.88 WHIP.
For up-to-date schedules, scores and live action from Thorpe and his Twins teammates, visit the official MLB website here.
Aaron Whitefield was optioned last week by the Minnesota Twins to their alternate training site, and this week was sent outright to their Double-A affiliate Pensacola Blue Wahoos.
The decision comes on the back of an agreement between Major League Baseball and the Players’ Association that states active rosters would remain at 28 players for the remainder of the 2020 season.
The Queenslander was put on the Twins 30-man Opening Day roster and made two appearances in the opening series against Chicago – including his MLB debut on Sunday, 26 July – and a further showing against St Louis in the same week.
Thought to be used as a pinch-runner in applicable scenarios, Whitefield entered the game for that reason twice through his three games, scoring one run courtesy of a Nelson Cruz home run.
The centrefielder took three catches across two games when he entered as a defensive replacement, including two catches against the Cardinals, where he also made his only plate appearance.
Whitefield’s only plate appearance, on Thursday, 30 July, saw the current Adelaide Giants star falling just short of reaching first, grounding out after almost getting the ball past the second baseman.
Being outrighted to the minors is a notable distinction to an affiliate training site as it means Whitefield is no longer in the Twins 60-man player pool.
Whitefield won’t be eligible to return to Minnesota’s pool in 2020, although there is the option to be traded to another team where he can continue his MLB journey.
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