Minnesota left-hander Andrew Albers defeated the surging Royals on Tuesday, throwing 8 1/3 scoreless innings in his major league debut. He allowed just four hits.
Albers’ superb outing came just one day after the Royals walloped the Twins 13-0.
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire chose to pull the 27-year-old Albers after a single and a one-out walk in the ninth. It was his first walk of the night, and after 109 pitches, he likely was tiring.
Still, it’s too bad he didn’t get one shot to get a game-ending double play. No active major leaguer has thrown a shutout in his major league debut. The last to do it was Detroit’s Andy Van Hekken on Sept. 3, 2002. It’s happened just seven times since 1980.
Albers, who was signed out of indy ball a couple of years ago, was a nice story even before the shutout. The native of Canada was drafted in the 10th round by the Padres in 2008, underwent Tommy John surgery and was released in 2010. That’s the short version. Seth Stohs has the longer one over at Twinsdaily.com.
X-rays originally came back negative after Rays leadoff man Desmond Jennings sprained his left middle finger on Saturday, but further tests Monday revealed a fracture, putting him on the 15-day disabled list.
Light-hitting Jason Bourgeois was called up to replace him on the roster.
The loss of Jennings is a big one for the Rays. His .258/.326/.419 line in 415 at-bats may not seem all that stellar, ranking just about average as far as AL center fielder’s go, but the only other player on Tampa Bay’s roster to see even an inning in center field this season, Sam Fuld, is batting .198/.270/.278 in 126 at-bats. Bourgeois, a 31-year-old journeyman, was hitting .291/.336/.371 in Triple-A.
The Rays do have the option of going to Wil Myers in center. It was his primary position between Double- and Triple-A in the Royals system last year. However, the Rays were using him strictly as a right fielder even before his callup in June; he hasn’t made an appearance at any other position this year.
It suggests that the Rays will try to get by with a Fuld-Bourgeois platoon until Jennings returns, with Fuld starting against righties and Bourgeois playing versus lefties. If the Rays do want to mix it up, they could use Myers in center with groundball pitchers Roberto Hernandez and Alex Cobb (currently on the DL) starting. But it’s probably not worth it.
Could things be any better for the Royals right now?
– Their 13-0 win over the Twins on Monday was their most lopsided victory since they beat the Mariners 17-3 on July 3, 2007. It was the first time since May 16, 1987 that they scored at least 13 runs and shut out the opposition (they beat the Brewers 13-0 that day).
– Jeremy Guthrie pitched his second career shutout in the game. He went his first 187 career starts without ever pitching a shutout. Now he has two after picking up his first May 5 against the White Sox.
– The victory was the career-high 12th of Guthrie’s career. Pitching for poor Orioles teams, he never won more than 11 games previously.
– Eric Hosmer homered and drove in a career-high five runs in the game. He hadn’t even driven in four runs in the same game since July 2011. He hit one homer in his first 61 games of the season, and he’s hit 11 in 46 games since.
– Mike Moustakas collected four hits for just the second time in his career. He’s batting .322 with four homers and 11 RBI in 59 at-bats since the break, compared to .215 with six homers and 17 RBI in his 275 previous at-bats.
But to answer that original question, yes, things could be going better for the Royals right now, because while they’ve won 12 of their last 13 games, the first-place Tigers have won 13 of their last 14. The Royals are currently 7 1/2 games back of Detroit in the AL Central and four games behind the Rangers for the second wild card, with the Indians and Orioles also ahead of them.