Liam Hendriks will continue facing questions about his winless streak until he's finally able to break through, but Minnesota Twins manager Ron Gardenhire seems to believe he's on the cusp of doing so.
Hendriks again seeks his elusive first career victory when visiting Minnesota looks to beat the Cleveland Indians for the 12th time in 14 meetings Wednesday night.
The right-hander, who made four starts in 2011, became the fifth player since 1920 to go winless in his first 17 career starts after giving up three runs in five innings of Minnesota's 4-3, 10-inning victory over Kansas City on Thursday.
The record for winless starts to begin a career is 20, shared by Bill Caudill of the Chicago Cubs (1979-81) and Mike Mohler of Oakland (1993-97), though Gardenhire thinks Hendriks (0-7, 6.14 ERA) pitched well his last time out.
"I told him he got a half of a win," Gardenhire said. "I'm just giving him one. I was a little disappointed in the first inning (because) he wasn't attacking."
The Indians (61-87) have denied Hendriks a victory twice, most recently Sept. 7 when he gave up four runs in five innings of Minnesota's 7-6 defeat. That was the last time the Twins fell to Cleveland, beating their AL Central rival for the fourth straight time with a 6-5, 12-inning victory in Tuesday's series opener.
Denard Span and Joe Mauer each had three hits as Minnesota (61-87) tied Cleveland for fourth place.
"A win's a win. They had chances, we had chances," Gardenhire said. "Then our bullpen was super, we got a couple key hits late and were fortunate to get the win.''
The Indians got a two-out solo homer from Carlos Santana in the 12th, but they used a team-record 10 pitchers in the defeat. They had runners at the corners with no outs in the 10th but couldn't push the winning run across.
"If you can't drive in the runner from third with no outs to walk off a team, you pretty much don't deserve to win the ballgame,'' manager Manny Acta said.
Cleveland, which has lost 25 of its last 32 overall, will have a tired bullpen when it sends Zach McAllister to the mound Wednesday.
McAllister (5-7, 4.15) hasn't won since beating Boston on Aug. 11, but he allowed two runs - one earned - in six innings of Cleveland's 5-4 victory at Texas on Thursday.
The right-hander had lost his previous three starts with a 10.22 ERA.
"I really like him. We all like him," Acta told the team's official website. "I think he's a solid guy that is big and strong and can pile up innings. He doesn't back down.
"He's had a couple of rough outings, but I'm very happy with the way he has thrown the ball."
Both of McAllister's outings against the Twins, though, have been short. He allowed nine runs - two earned - in 1 2-3 innings of a 14-3 loss Aug. 6, then gave up two runs and walked three while throwing 87 pitches in three innings of a 3-0 defeat Sept. 8.
Cleveland has dropped 10 of its last 12 at home and five of the seven home meetings with the Twins this season.
The Indians activated designated hitter Travis Hafner from the disabled list, and he'll bat sixth Wednesday. Hafner had been sidelined since Aug. 6 with lower black inflammation, the latest in a series of ailments that have plagued the 35-year-old the past five years.