Liam Hendriks earns his first win since returning from cancer, helped by Jake Burger’s grand slam

Liam Hendriks returned to baseball last week after being diagnosed with cancer during the offseason.

Since Sunday, he is back in the win column. The Chicago White Sox pitched a scoreless 9th inning in a tie against the Detroit Tigers. Then, in the bottom of the ninth, third baseman Jake Burger ended the game in dramatic fashion.

Facing a 1-0 pitch with the bases loaded and an out in a 2-2 game, Burger saw an 89 mph curveball from Alex Lange dangle over the plate. He threw it over the wall from left field to guaranteed rate field for a walk-in grand slam to secure a 6-2 White Sox victory.

The home run was the surging White Sox slugger’s 12th of the season. It also secured a victory for Hendriks in his third appearance since returning to baseball following his cancer diagnosis. He did so on National Cancer Survivors Day.

Hendriks back to baseball months after cancer diagnosis

Hendriks revealed on January 8 that he had been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He announced he was starting treatment the next day and was confident he would make a “full recovery”.

“My treatment begins tomorrow and I am confident that I will fully recover and be back on the mound as soon as possible,” Hendriks wrote in a Jan. 8 statement. “I know that with the support of my wife, my family, my teammates and the Chicago White Sox organization, as well as the treatment and care of my doctors, I will get through this.”

Liam Hendriks reacts to a late inning takedown by Tyler Nevin (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

Liam Hendriks reacts to a late inning takedown by Tyler Nevin (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

On May 29 — not five months after his diagnosis — Hendriks kept his vow and returned to the mound for an eighth inning against the Los Angeles Angels. He didn’t have his best trick that day, giving up two points in a 6-4 Angels win that was secondary to his comeback.

He followed that up with a perfect 7th inning on Saturday in a 2-1 White Sox win over the Tigers. On Sunday, he returned to his familiar spot in the 9th inning, again against Detroit.

He knocked out outfielder Akil Baddoo in a nine-pitch first battle. He then induced a ground fly from first baseman Spencer Torkleson on the first pitch from the bat. He closed out the perfect inning with a five-pitch strikeout from Tyler Nevin that finally secured his spot in the win column.

Hendriks, a three-time All-Star, is in his 13th season in MLB at age 34. He has now made three appearances in seven days with a pair of perfect sleeves. He seems well on his way to a regular spot outside the White Sox bullpen.

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