Royals shut out Angels; Vin Mazzaro lowers ERA from 17.47 to 10.80

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I’ll assume Vin Mazzaro is more upbeat about this one than his last start, when he gave up six runs in five innings and yet still lowered his ERA from 22.74 to 17.47.

Mazzaro pitched seven scoreless innings despite failing to strike out a batter Sunday as the Royals beat the Angels 9-0 to win two out of three games in Anaheim.

The Angels hit into five double plays in the contest. Torii Hunter, Bobby Abreu, Howie Kendrick and Mark Trumbo all grounded into one, while Hank Conger had his line drive turned into another.

Blake Wood took over in relief of Mazzaro to start the eighth and fanned the first batter he faced, Andrew Romine.  It was the Angels’ only strikeout of the game, making this the first shutout to feature just one strikeout since the A’s beat the Rangers 5-0 on Aug. 28, 2010.

The last shutout without a strikeout took place on May 17, 2006, when the Tigers beat the Twins 2-0.  Justin Verlander went eight in that one before Todd Jones finished up.

Alex Gordon went 3-for-5 and pounded out his 20th double for the Royals.  He drove in two.  Billy Butler and Chris Getz both had two hits and two RBI apiece. Mike Moustakas, who hit his first big-league homer las tnight, went 1-for-4 with a walk.

Battle of the Aces: Max Scherzer takes on Clayton Kershaw tonight

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I hope you don’t have any plans tonight at around 10PM Eastern time, because that’s when we get a pitching matchup for the ages as Max Scherzer will take on Clayton Kershaw at Dodger Stadium. When they meet tonight it will be the first time two pitchers with three or more Cy Young Awards have matched up since 2006. That year, and in 2005 and 2000, Roger Clemens faced Greg Maddux. In 2001 Clemens faced Pedro Martinez.

Kershaw won his hardware in 2011, 2013 and 2014, with an MVP award in 2014 to boot. Scherzer collected trophies in 2013, 2016 and 2017. Each has started the 2018 season in Cy Young form. Kershaw is 1-2, but that record is due to poor run support. He has a 1.73 ERA and has struck out 31 batters and has walked only three in 26 innings. Scherzer is 3-1 with a 1.33 ERA and a whopping 38 strikeouts to only 4 walks in 27 innings.

This will be the third time that Kershaw and Scherzer faced each other if you include the playoffs. The first meeting was a decade ago when both were rookies. They most recently faced off in Game 1 of the 2016 NLDS, way back when Scherzer only had one Cy Young Award to his credit. Kershaw beat Scherzer in that playoff game and the Dodgers beat Scherzer’s teams in the two regular season matchups, with neither guy setting the world on fire. As so often happens in baseball, the hype hasn’t been matched by reality.

Still, there’s always a chance it will. And even if, in the end, this turns into a slugfest, the first couple of innings should at least give us some hope of something good. I’ll be watching.