A’s Liam Hendriks Bounces Back, Breaks Rollie Fingers Strikeout Record

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OAKLAND -- One of baseball's most common clichés is that relief pitchers need to have a short memory. A's closer Liam Hendriks has a slightly different variation of that rule.

"I don't know if it's a short memory or just have a really bad memory," he joked Tuesday.

Hendriks suffered a rare blown save in Monday's loss to the Kansas City Royals but bounced back with a dominant ninth inning Tuesday night, as the A's picked up a 2-1 win. 

"I spoke to my wife about it last night," Hendriks told NBC Sports California. "Everything felt good, but it didn't feel good, if that makes any sense. My ball felt light, and that's abnormal for me when I'm going out there. But I worked on it a little bit today, made sure I got my legs under me a little bit and the results were there. I was able to throw some good breaking balls when I needed to and kept them off balance enough where, if I left a fastball in a bad spot, they were able to miss it because I had set them up."

Added A's manager Bob Melvin: "It's very rare when Liam blows a save. He's been great for us all year. So it was good to get him right back in there."

Hendriks set the Royals down in order in the ninth, recording a pair of strikeouts to give him 118 for the season, with 116 coming as a reliever. That broke the A's record for strikeouts by a relief pitcher, previously held by Hall of Famer Rollie Fingers, who had 115 in 1975.

"It was cool," Hendriks said. "It's not something I started the year out after, but as it kept getting closer, I was a little bit aware of it. ... Anytime you get talked about in the same sentence as Rollie Fingers, it's a pretty big deal. I'm just happy to bounce back from last night. Obviously, last night wasn't the best situation for me, but I came back and had that vigor again and was able to put it to bed."

[RELATED: How A's Wendelken has earned Melvin's trust in big spots]

Hendriks has enjoyed a breakout season at the age of 30. The right-hander is 4-3 with 23 saves and a 1.66 ERA with those 118 strikeouts in 81 1/3 innings.

"(The strikeout) is his biggest weapon," Melvin said. "It gets him out of jams with guys on base. He's got a much better slider to keep them off his fastball. His fastball (velocity) is the best it's been in his career. But I think that the command of his breaking ball allows his fastball to play up and he's been striking guys out all year."

With all of the bullpen struggles Oakland has experienced this season, Hendriks has been a godsend. His ninth-inning dominance has allowed the A's to remain in the driver's seat for a second straight postseason berth.

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