West Australian Liam Hendriks has collected a save in the 2021 Major League Baseball All-Star Game at Coors Field in Denver, Colorado as the American League All-Stars held onto a 5-2 win over the National League All-Stars.
The Chicago White Sox relief pitcher entered the game at the bottom of the ninth to replace Boston Red Sox pitcher Matt Barnes. In one inning, Hendriks needed only 17 pitches to retire the side, finishing one inning of work with two hits and a strikeout.
To begin, Hendriks gave up a lead-off single to Milwaukee’s Omar Navarez who was later caught stealing second before striking out Dodger Chris Taylor. Atlanta’s Ozzie Albies hit a two-out double before Miami’s Trea Turner grounded out to end the game.
Speaking to MLB Network Radio post-game, Hendriks said it was just another game for him, not getting caught up in the lights of an All-Star Game.
“I mean, a save’s a save to me. It doesn’t matter if it’s the All-Star Game or [anything] else,” Hendriks told MLB Network post-game.
“I enjoy the game. I want to have fun with it and it’s an experience to be on the national stage and having a fun time. Because at the end of the game, like yeah you want to go out there and compete, you want to do well.
“The game has no effect on anything other than just being here. I am just so blessed and so honoured just to be able to able to represent Australia.”
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Continuing post-game on MLB Tonight, the closing pitcher wouldn’t reveal where this moment ranked in his career but revelled in the fact there have been many memorable moments.
“I mean, this [accomplishment] is definitely up there,” Hendriks said.
“I don’t want to rank everything because I think everything you take is special whether it be my first career save, whether it be my first appearance in the All-Star Game, whether it be tonight just running into this situation. I’m just taking everything in stride and I’m just looking forward to the next adventure.”
Furthering on his comments he made when he was selected to the MLB All-Star Game roster where he hoped his success would translate to seeing more kids back home play baseball, Hendriks said he hoped a spectacle like the All-Star Game would have a positive impact worldwide.
“It’s a world game. Me being able to do anything in this game is gonna be broadcast hopefully in Australia and hopefully around so we can get more Australian kids involved. Whether then that turns into Australian kids, New Zealand kids, European kids.”
His appearance in this year’s All-Star Game is the second of his career, featuring in the 2019 MLB All-Star Game at Progressive Field in Cleveland, making Hendriks the first Australian to participate in the showcase on two occasions.
Previously, Australians Dave Nilsson (Milwaukee, 1999) and Grant Balfour (Oakland, 2013) have appeared in the All-Star Game.
Hendriks mentioned on Fox Sports post-game that it was special feeling to now have played in two All-Star Games.
“I’m just happy to be pitching in the game. The first one was surreal. The second one makes me the first ever Australian to go to two [All-Star Games]. It’s something special and near and dear to my heart and hopefully this gets more Aussies involved in baseball.”
Over the course of the 2021 MLB season, Chicago sits atop the American League Central standings with a 54-35 record. Hendriks has appeared in 40 games for the White Sox, pitching 39.1 innings for a 4-2 win-loss record and an ERA of 2.75 with 63 strikeouts.
More impressively, as a closing pitcher Hendriks has collected 23 saves from 27 opportunities, leading to him being awarded May’s Reliever of the Month. The number of saves has him first in the American League and second league-wide for that category.
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