The Oakland Athletics staved off elimination on Wednesday, defeating the Houston Astros 9-7 in Game 3 of their best-of-five American League Division Series. The A’s now trail the Astros 2-1 in the series, meaning they’ll need to win the next two in order to advance to their first American League Championship Series since 2006.
Count closer Liam Hendriks as one party who is responsible for the A’s living to see another day. Hendriks recorded an old-school relief appearance on Wednesday, getting the final nine outs of the game and earning the victory along the way. He struck out four of the 11 batters he faced, and allowed just two baserunners: one on a hit, the other on catcher’s interference.
Hendriks, a free agent this winter, is no stranger to multi-inning relief appearances. He recorded more than three outs in 24 of his 99 appearances the past two years, and in more than 25 percent of his 247 career appearances with the Athletics.
Wednesday’s outing was the second time this October that Hendriks had pitched beyond a single inning. During the second game of the Wild Card Series against the Chicago White Sox, he notched five outs before departing with two outs and the bases loaded in the ninth inning. Hendriks threw 49 pitches that day, yet returned the next afternoon in the decisive Game 3 and nailed down a save to help the Athletics advance to this round.
Hendriks threw 37 pitches on Wednesday. If history is any indication, he should be available out of the bullpen for manager Bob Melvin in Game 4 on Wednesday. The A’s might need him if they’re going to force a winner-takes-all Game 5 — and they might need him then, too, if they’re intent on playing for the pennant for the first time in a long time.