Liam Hendriks failed an important test against potent Yankees lineup
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MINNEAPOLIS -- With the exception of playing spoiler, these last few games are relatively meaningless for the Minnesota Twins. The only drama is whether they finish ahead of the Cleveland Indians for fourth place in the American League Central.
But the final part of the schedule does include games against playoff contenders Detroit and New York, and also games with MVP (Miguel Cabrera) and batting title (Joe Mauer) significance -- all of which act as measuring sticks to evaluate individual players fighting for roster spots.
Liam Hendriks, for example, failed an important test on Monday night when the Yankees launched four home runs off of him.
"I don't know if you could ask for anything more to evaluate your younger guys than stuff like that, which is good," general manager Terry Ryan said. "For us, there must be -- let's see, there's eight or nine guys we're looking at to see if they can go and compete against that type of club. ...
"You saw what happened to Hendriks last night. OK. For me, that's a valid test."
After the game, manager Ron Gardenhire praised Hendriks for settling down after a three-run first inning and pitching aggressively inside to a potent Yankees lineup.
"That was nice," Ryan said, "but it was too late. We didn't win that game. We were down four or something early, then he let them tack on. Those are the types of things... You can't let them tack on. OK, you gave up a three-spot, shut it down and give us a chance. ...
"All that stuff, when you're looking at Hendriks, first inning, you've got to be ready In the first. That inning means as much as the fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh... I think that's a measuring stick for Hendriks. He's got to do a better job of keeping us in that game."
Hendriks, who owns a 6.09 ERA in 15 outings, will make one more start this season, on Sunday against the Tigers -- another test against a contending team with a hitter vying for the first Triple Crown since 1967.
Scott Diamond is currently the only Twins starter penciled into the 2013 rotation. The Twins are hoping Hendriks, 23, can translate his minor-league dominance into major-league consistency.
It hasn't happened yet.