DETROIT – Framber Valdez threw his first career shutout and the Houston Astros beat the Detroit Tigers 7-0 on Monday night.
Valdez (15-5) posted his 24th straight quality start, tying New York Mets ace Jacob deGrom (2018) for the longest single-season streak.
“It means a lot to me because it means I help the team when I throw,” Valdez said through an interpreter. “They help me with their great defense and attack, and I know I’m giving them a chance to win.”
The left-handed All-Star allowed six hits and walked eight of them.
“It’s a monumental streak — a lot of great pitchers have never come close to getting there,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said. “Players know when they’re getting close to something like that, and I don’t mind because I know it motivates them to excel.”
According to ESPN Stats & Information research, behind deGrom and Valdez are Chris Carpenter (2005, 22) and Bob Gibson (1968, 22).
Valdez became the 12th major league pitcher to throw a shutout this season — on track for the least in a full season since eight in 1873. No pitcher has more than one.
It was only the 28th full game in the big leagues this year – down from 50 in the entire 2021 season.
The Tigers were shut out for the second day in a row and broke the club record for the 21st time this season, tying them with the 1973 New York Yankees and 1976 Chicago White Sox for most by a team with a designated hitter.
Detroit had runners ejected at home plate in the first and third innings.
“We made some youthful mistakes early on as we struggled to score and we’re trying to shake things up,” Tigers manager AJ Hinch said. “That’s 91 wins for them, and a lot of it comes from elite defense.”
Jeremy Pena had three hits for the Astros and scored twice.
“We scored quite a few points, and I think we could have more,” Baker said. “I’m just happy with the results.”
Tigers starter Eduardo Rodriguez (3-5) allowed five runs on 10 hits and walked one in five innings.
“They’re just keeping the line moving when they’re throwing something,” Hinch said. “Eduardo wasn’t sharp and they got him.”
Jose Altuve started the match with a single, stole the second and scored on Pena’s single. Pena also stole second place and Alex Bregman’s RBI single made it 2-0.
Valdez said the two strikeouts inspired him to go for his first shutout.
“Once I got out of the third set I knew I had a chance,” he said. “It’s always one of my goals, and today I wanted to achieve it because I was getting really good defensive plays.”
In the third, the Astros managed to add a run on a late-inning double play. With the bases loaded, Kyle Tucker hit a grounder for shortstop Javy Baez, who was shifted to the right side. Bregman froze between first and second, preventing Baez from tagging him. Detroit converted the 6-3-4 double play, but Pena scored from the third before the Tigers could pull Bregman out.
Tucker made it 4-0 with an RBI groundout in the fifth, and Yuli Gurriel followed with a brace.
Tucker added a two-run single in the ninth.
As usual, Valdez chose the team’s navy blue jerseys for his departure, but said it wasn’t for superstitious reasons.
“I don’t know why, but they feel lighter to me,” he said. “We’re going to keep wearing them when I pitch.”
It certainly works.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.