Valdez pitches 1st shutout, Astros blank Tigers 7-0

DETROIT (AP) — Framber Valdez pitched 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.

“This means a lot to me, because it means I’m helping the team when I’m pitching,” Valdez said through a translator. “They help me with their great defense and their offense, and I know I’m giving them a chance to win.”

The All-Star left-hander gave up six hits and struck out eight with one walk.

“That’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 are getting close to something like that, and that doesn’t bother me, because I know it motivates them to excellence.”

Valdez became the 12th major league pitcher to throw a shutout this season — on track for the fewest in a full season since eight in 1873. No pitcher has more than one.

It was just the 28th complete game in the big leagues this year — down from 50 during the entire 2021 season.

The Tigers were shut out for the second day in a row and club-record 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 thrown out at the plate in the first and third innings.

“We made a couple young mistakes early, because we’re struggling to score and we’re trying to make things happen,” Tigers manager A.J. Hinch said. “That’s 91 wins for them, and a lot of that comes from elite defense.”

Jeremy Pena had three hits for the Astros and scored twice.

“We scored quite a few runs 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 a walk in five innings.

“They just keep the line moving when they get something going,” Hinch said. “Eduardo wasn’t sharp and they got to him.”

Jose Altuve started the game with a single, stole second and scored on Pena’s single. Pena also stole second and Alex Bregman’s RBI single made it 2-0.

Valdez said the two outs at the plate inspired him to go for his first shutout.

“Once I got out of the third inning, I knew I had a chance,” he said. “That’s always a goal of mine, and today I wanted to get it because I was getting such great defensive plays.”

In the third, the Astros managed to add a run on an inning-ending double play. With the bases loaded, Kyle Tucker hit a grounder to shortstop Javy Baez, who was shifted to the right side. Bregman froze between first and second, preventing Baez from tagging him. Detroit turned the 6-3-4 double play, but Pena scored from third before the Tigers could retire Bregman.

Tucker made it 4-0 with an RBI groundout in the fifth and Yuli Gurriel followed with a run-scoring double.

Tucker added a two-run single in the ninth.

KEEPING HIS TEAM BLUE

As usual, Valdez picked the team’s navy blue jerseys for his start, 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.”

UP NEXT

The teams play the second of three games Tuesday evening, with Detroit’s Drew Hutchison (2-7) facing Hunter Brown (1-0, 0.00).

Brown, who will be making his second major league start, grew up in suburban Detroit and played at Wayne State University, a mile from Comerica Park. The Tigers are offering discounted tickets for Wayne State students for the entire series.

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