The first four weeks of the 2020 MLB season have been massive, with two Aussies making our country proud on baseball’s biggest stage. WA’s Liam Hendriks has notched his eighth save as the go-to closer for the Oakland Athletics, while fellow Aussie Lewis Thorpe has been working hard on the mound for the Minnesota Twins.
Liam Hendriks and the Oakland Athletics are sitting first in the American League West with a 18-8 record. Hendriks picked up three more saves from as many games, taking his tally to eight for season, now an equal MLB-leading amount.
Hendriks entered the game in the 10th inning against San Francisco on Saturday, 15 August and struck out all three batters as the Athletics produced a remarkable comeback win. Oakland had some strong offensive work at the top of the ninth, scoring five runs to make it an even ballgame and holding off the Giants to take the game to extras.
Hendriks did not appear affected by the Giants runner on second under MLB's extra-innings rules for 2020, letting his fastball do the damage as the A's completed an 8-7 win.
The West Australian blew a fastball past lead-off hitter Brandon Belt as the Giants were unable to advance the runner, before the closer struck out Mauricio Dubon for the second out.
The right-hander then got Mike Yastrzemski to strike out swinging on a ball out of the zone, completing the wild comeback win for Oakland.
Oakland, which trailed 6-0 after four innings, relied on Stephen Piscotty's grand slam at the top of the ninth to make it a 7-all game. Matt Olsen's seventh homer of the season was the first run scored in that frame for the A's while it was a sacrifice fly from Mark Canha at the top of the 10th that saw Oakland with the go-ahead run, Chapman the one to score from second.
It was a similar story the day after on Sunday, 16 August with the Athletics beating the Giants 7-6 after another late-inning barrage of runs - four at the top of the ninth - to take the lead.
Hendriks took three pitches to claim the first two outs of the final frame, Hunter Pence grounding out on the first pitch before Brandon Crawford flew out to right field.
Pinch-hitter Alex Dickerson was walked but was stuck at first as Mauricio Dubon popped out to Tony Kemp at second for the final out.
Hendriks collected his equal MLB-leading eighth save on Thursday, 20 August as Oakland extended its home winning streak to seven in a 4-1 win over Arizona.
The 31-year-old retired all three batters he faced at Oakland Coliseum, taking just 15 pitches to achieve the final three outs, including striking out Kole Calhoun.
Eduardo Escobar flew out to left field while Nick Ahmed grounded out to finish off the game.
Hendriks followed up on a strong start from Jesus Luzardo, who struck out seven over 6.1 scoreless innings as Oakland jumped out in front in the first on Robbie Grossman's two-run ground-rule double. Mark Canha doubled the A's advantage with a two-run homer in the third.
A fourth outing for the week saw Hendriks enter the top of the ninth in Oakland's 5-1 win against Arizona on Friday, 21 August, replacing Jake Diekman.
Hendriks pitched the one closing inning, recording the required three outs from consecutive hitters, firstly striking out Christian Walker before Eduardo Escabar grounded out. Hendriks struck out Nick Ahmed to finish the game.
The former Perth Heat pitcher's ERA now sits at 1.35 from 13.1 innings pitched. Hendriks' eight saves for the season has him tied with Zack Britton from the New York Yankees for the most saves.
Oakland hosts the Los Angeles Angels across the weekend in a three-game series before travelling to Texas to take on the Rangers in a three-game series to cap off the next week of the 2020 MLB season.
Follow Oakland’s season on the official MLB website here.
Victorian Lewis Thorpe pitched four innings in a 9-3 loss to Milwaukee that saw a couple of long shots clear the fence, prompting his ERA to rise, although the Minnesota Twins are still atop the rankings in the American League Central division with a 17-9 record.
Thorpe entered in the fourth inning of the game against Milwaukee at Target Field on Thursday, 20 August. He came into the game when the Brewers were up by three runs and managed to contain that margin from his first inning on the mound.
The next inning wasn't so smooth as Thorpe gave up four runs - a pair of two-run home runs to Christian Yelich and Avisail Garcia - at the top of the fifth as Milwaukee ran away with the scoreline.
The 24-year-old left-hander recovered well in his next two innings, ending his four frames with six hits for four runs with three strikeouts and three walks.
The former Doncaster and Greenhills Montmorency junior saw his ERA dip to 5.06 from his last appearance, however as a result of the Twins 9-3 loss to the Brewers, Thorpe's ERA is back up at 6.14.
The Twins optioned Thorpe to their alternate training site on Thursday and recalled Zack Littell. Thorpe remains on the Twins' 40-man roster, meaning he is eligible to be added back to the active roster.
The Twins meet Kansas City once again across the weekend, followed by a three-game series in Cleveland before finishing up the week in Detroit next Friday.
For up-to-date schedules, scores and live action from the Twins, visit the official MLB website here.
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