Stephen Strasburg beat him by a day, but on Monday night, Twins rookie Andrew Albers tied the Nationals' prodigy in career shutouts with one.
Albers, a 27-year-old native of Saskatchewan who threw 8 1/3 scoreless innings in his major-league debut on Aug. 6, followed that up with a two-hit shutout, blanking the Indians 2-0 to start his career with 17 1/3 innings without allowing a run.
Such a torrid start to his big-league tenure was already noteworthy, but that his shutout came with only two strikeouts only adds to Albers’ place in baseball history -- or at least on a Trivial Pursuit card. Not bad for a player who was pitching for an independent league team in Quebec just three years ago. Though a 10th round pick out of the University of Kentucky in 2008, Albers’ career was sidetracked by Tommy John surgery before signing with the Twins prior to the 2011 season.
Consider these superlatives of his start, all thanks to Baseball-Reference.com’s incomparable Play Index:
- Albers joins Red Sox pitchers Clay Buchholz and Devern Hansack, as well as current Royals starter Ervin Santana, as the only pitchers in the last decade to throw a shutout within the first two starts of their careers. (Full list)
- Albers is the first pitcher since Baltimore’s Tom Phoebus in 1966 to win his first two career starts while tossing at least eight shutout innings. (Full list)
- Albers is the first pitcher this season to throw a shutout with two or fewer strikeouts; Boston’s Aaron Cook and Cleveland’s Derek Lowe were the only two to accomplish the feat last year. Cook also had only two strikeouts.
- Albers is the first Twins pitcher to throw a shutout this season; only Scott Diamond did so in 2012. Interestingly, Albers replaced Diamond in the rotation, and Diamond threw a shutout in Triple-A the previous night.
- Albers threw only one career minor-league shutout, a Triple-A outing on June 7 this year against the Gwinnett Braves, in which he allowed six hits.