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Hendriks' streak ends in walk-off defeat

All-Star closer's run of consecutive scoreless innings snapped by Twins
@MartinJGallegos
July 21, 2019

MINNEAPOLIS -- There were only so many different looks Liam Hendriks could give to the Twins when having to face them three days in a row. The right-hander did a good job of mixing it up the first two nights, but the Twins finally got to him Sunday. It was

MINNEAPOLIS -- There were only so many different looks Liam Hendriks could give to the Twins when having to face them three days in a row. The right-hander did a good job of mixing it up the first two nights, but the Twins finally got to him Sunday.

It was a rare sight for the A’s as Hendriks blew a save opportunity by allowing the Twins to walk it off for a 7-6 victory at Target Field. The right-hander was tagged with the loss after allowing two runs in the ninth, snapping a career-best streak of 21 scoreless innings, which was also the longest active streak in the Majors.

Box score

“Give them credit. They hit some good pitches. His stuff was no different today than any other day,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “At some point in time, he was probably going to blow one. It’s kind of the nature of the game.”

The All-Star closer was flawless as he picked up the save the previous two nights, including Friday night’s victory in which he recorded the final five outs. But the third time was a charm for the Twins.

Holding a one-run lead, Hendriks found himself in trouble after Ehire Adrianza followed up a one-out single by Luis Arraez with a game-tying triple off the wall in right. He regrouped and struck out Jason Castro for the second out, but surrendered a single to Max Kepler that finished it off by allowing Adrianza to score.

Pitching for a third consecutive day surely also had to come with some fatigue, but Hendriks refused to use that as an excuse.

“I felt fine. I think every pitch they hit, I shook off [catcher Josh] Phegley. It is what it is,” Hendriks said. “The pitch to Arraez was where I wanted to throw it, they just had a better approach today.”

Adding some sting to the loss was the hard work that went all for naught by the A’s offense as it overcame an early four-run deficit to mount a late-inning comeback. They scored six runs over the final five innings, beginning and ending with Phegley, who got the A’s on the board with a two-run home run in the fifth and later gave them a one-run lead on his sacrifice fly in the eighth.

“Regardless of if you were behind or leading the whole game, it sucks to give up the lead and get the loss,” Hendriks said. “But these guys worked their tails off today, and I couldn’t bring it home. It’s disappointing.”

The A’s had to settle for a four-game series split, still managing to take the overall season series by winning four of seven matchups with the Twins. But this loss leaves a bad taste in their mouths, and given that Sunday’s game was the final regular-season meeting between the two clubs, Hendriks hopes to get a shot to avenge the loss down the line.

“They’ve got a good offense and some guys in the rotation, some guys surprising out of the bullpen,” Hendriks said. “Hopefully we’ll match up against them some time here in the future. We’ll see how it goes.”

A postseason matchup remains a real possibility at this point, with the A’s holding the second American League Wild Card and Minnesota leading the AL Central.

The home run streak lives
Phegley’s two-run blast made it 21 consecutive games in which the A’s have homered. They’re closing in on the Oakland record of 23, which was set July 2-27, 1996.

Up next
The A’s head to Houston for a three-game series with the Astros. The A's are currently second in the AL West and trailing Houston by 6 1/2 games, and the series presents an opportunity for Oakland to gain some ground in the division.

The Astros have been a nightmare for the A’s so far, taking seven of the first eight games between the two and outscoring Oakland, 42-20.

Martin Gallegos covers the A's for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @MartinJGallegos.