Sometimes a day off produces a little rust.
That’s how Liam Hendriks felt when he started Thursday night after an International League-wide day off Wednesday.
But he picked a few guys off, had some solid defense behind him and settled in for a simply solid outing, again.
Hendriks gave up one run on six hits in seven innings of work to pace the Buffalo Bisons to a 6-1 win over the Charlotte Knights in front of about 100 hardy souls at chilly Coca-Cola Field on Thursday night.
“I came in a little rusty and with the off day yesterday came in and didn’t feel quite right,” Hendriks said. “I figured some stuff out after just throwing a couple things in the dugout tunnel. I figured it out and threw well toward the end.”
It wasn’t as if he was throwing poorly in the first four innings, but there were base runners who could have been trouble early on in a scoreless game. The defense came up big, as did Hendriks.
In the second inning, catcher Erik Kratz made a heads-up play on a bunt single, throwing quickly to second, where shortstop Munenori Kawasaki was covering the base and applied the tag.
In the fourth, Kawasaki made an impressive play at short, diving to his right to snag a screaming ground ball. He then popped to his feet, threw to first and got the out.
Then there was Hendriks, who twice picked off runners at first.
“I didn’t think my pickoff move was that good, but it apparently worked tonight, which I’m pretty happy about,” Hendriks said. “I got the ball over there quickly and was just trying to keep the guys off balance and trying to keep them close. I’m not trying to get an out there. I’m trying to keep them close so maybe we can get a double play or get the guy at second on a different play.”
Hendriks issued his first walk of 2014 when he missed the pay-off pitch on Jared Tyler Saladino with two outs in the seventh. He went 28∑ innings before giving up a walk.
He threw 92 itches, 59 of them for strikes, with his seven innings the longest outing of the season for any Bison starter.
What did manager Gary Allenson see from Hendriks, who improved to 4-0 and lowered his ERA to 1.26?
“Same thing I’ve seen every time,” Allenson said. “He’s pretty good. Gets ahead. Throws strikes. … What’s good about Hendriks is when we do score, he does a real good job of stopping any momentum, which is important in baseball.”
The lead came initially off the bat of Kevin Pillar, who extended his hitting streak to 13 games, driving in the first three runs of the game – two on a double in the third and one on a groundout in the fifth.
Earlier on Thursday, the Toronto Blue Jays called up outfielder Anthony Gose and infielder Scott Tolleson. They returned infielder Jonathan Diaz to the Bisons and designated Moises Sierra for assignment. Sierra will need to clear waivers before he can return to the Bisons.
The series continues tonight (7:05 p.m., Radio 1520 AM). Sean Nolin (2-0, 1.96 ERA) of the Bisons is scheduled to face Erik Johnson (no record) of the Knights.