Twins-Royals Preview

The Associated Press

Some games, Liam Hendriks has gotten little help from his offense. Other games, he's failed to help himself.

All those games have left him without a major league victory.

The rookie right-hander tries again for win No. 1 on Saturday night when he pitches the second game of a doubleheader for the Minnesota Twins against the Kansas City Royals.

The 23-year-old Hendriks (0-7, 6.02 ERA) first appeared in the big leagues last year after the rosters expanded and lost twice in four starts. This season, he's bounced between the Twins and Triple-A Rochester and lost both his outings since last being recalled Aug. 21.

While winless in 14 overall starts, Hendriks could barely be faulted for his ninth career defeat Monday. He threw a three-hitter in a 1-0 loss to Felix Hernandez and Seattle, with his only mistake in 103 pitches an eighth-inning homer by Eric Thames.

''I'm so upset,'' Ben Revere said. ''We all are trying to get him his first MLB victory. It just doesn't seem like he can catch a break. But he's going to eventually get it.''

Monday's loss marked the fourth time in 10 starts this year the Twins failed to provide Hendriks any runs, but it was also just the third time he lasted at least six innings. Still, the young Australian is undaunted as he tries to avoid becoming the first Twins starer in franchise history to lose his first 10 decisions dating back to 1920, when the team was located in Washington.

"I know I can go out there and I know I can compete and I know I can even get better from here,'' he said after the loss.

His lone appearance against the Royals did not go well, suffering a 7-3 road loss Sept. 14 after getting tagged for five runs and eight hits in five innings.

Hendriks will be opposed by Luke Hochevar (7-12, 4.93), who is trying to avoid losing for the fourth time in five starts. The right-hander threw an eight-hitter in a 5-1 loss at Boston on Monday and was again the victim of poor support - Kansas City has provided him only one run during his recent slump.

Hochevar is 0-1 in two starts against Minnesota this year and limited the Twins to one run in seven innings of Kansas City's 2-1, 11-inning loss July 20 in the most recent one. He is 4-4 in 13 lifetime starts and 14 appearances versus Minnesota and has struggled against Joe Mauer, who has gone 13 for 26 with two doubles, one triple and one homer.

Twins shortstop Alexi Casilla is 8 for 22 with three doubles and two triples versus Hochevar.

Friday night's scheduled starters - rookies Will Smith and Cole De Vries - will take the mound in this twinbill opener.

After lasting seven innings apiece in a pair of strong starts earlier in August, Smith (4-6, 5.55 ERA) has regressed for the Royals. The left-hander gave up four runs in 3 2-3 innings in a 5-1 loss at Tampa Bay on Aug. 20, then surrendered five in five frames of an 8-6 defeat at Boston on Sunday.

"Just not a good day. It just wasn't there today,'' Smith said after falling to the Red Sox. "Couldn't get anybody out, just gave up a lot of base hits. Nothing was working.''

Nothing was working at all in his lone previous look at the Twins. Smith gave up seven runs over 4 2-3 innings in a 10-7 home loss June 4, surrendering homers to Josh Willingham, Justin Morneau and Trevor Plouffe.

His opponent that day was De Vries (3-5, 4.68), who earned his first major league win despite giving up five runs in five innings. The right-hander was much better June 30 at Target Field, holding the Royals to one run in six innings of a 5-1 victory over Hochevar.

He then went nearly two months without a win before earning one in a tough environment Sunday. De Vries held Texas to two runs - one earned - and three hits over five innings as Minnesota won 6-5.

"I'm happy to have a performance like that against a powerful offense,'' De Vries said.

The Twins swept a doubleheader between the teams June 30 at Target Field.

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