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Roger Schlueter

MLB Notebook: Alvarez has a knack for shutouts

Marlins righty one of five active pitchers to toss four shutouts before turning 25

MLB Notebook: Alvarez has a knack for shutouts

On May 4, 2012, Blue Jays right-hander Henderson Alvarez became the fourth-youngest pitcher (at 22 years and 16 days) in franchise history to hurl a nine-inning shutout, as he limited the Angels to six hits in a 4-0 victory.

And if that fourth-place entry was notable, the two men sandwiching him made the location even more fun. Alvarez was just slightly younger than Dave Stieb (who tossed a four-hit shutout at the age of 22 years and 20 days) and just slightly older than Roy Halladay, who celebrated a seven-hitter when he was just 22 years and six days old.

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While that command performance would be the only shutout during Alvarez's time with Toronto (leaving him well behind Stieb and Halladay -- who rank first and second in career shutouts for the franchise), the now 24-year-old has been somewhat of a shutout star in his time with the Marlins. Since Sept. 29, 2013 (when Alvarez threw a no-hitter), there have been 11 shutouts thrown in the Majors, with Alvarez responsible for three. And since the beginning of last season, Alvarez's three tie him with Bartolo Colon, Justin Masterson and Adam Wainwright for the most in the Majors.

Marlins' arms hot at home
Alvarez threw a six-hitter Tuesday for his second shutout of the year, and the Marlins blanked the Mets, 3-0.

Alvarez has four career shutouts, and is barely past his 24th birthday. He is one of five active pitchers to have at least four before turning 25, joining Clayton Kershaw (five), Derek Holland (five), Felix Hernandez (four) and Mark Buehrle (four). Alvarez is the second Marlins pitcher -- after Dontrelle Willis in 2005 -- to have a pair of shutouts through the team's first 33 contests.

With the victory, Miami improved to 16-5 at home and lowered its ERA at Marlins Park to 2.73. The home winning percentage is the best in the big leagues, while the home ERA stands as the sixth lowest (Atlanta has an MLB-best 2.31 ERA at home.)

Welcome back, Gavin
Making his first Major League appearance in more than a year, Braves right-hander Gavin Floyd allowed a run in seven innings as Atlanta defeated St. Louis, 2-1. The Braves have played 32 games this season, and in 11 of them, their starter went at least seven innings and allowed no more than one run.

Those 11 are the most in the Majors, with the Reds and Royals claiming eight for the second most. The 11 through 32 games are as many as any team has had in the past 20 seasons. The other teams with 11: the 1996 Braves, 2003 Yankees, '05 Orioles and '12 Cardinals. The 1994 Braves are the most recent team to have with more than 11, with 13 through 32 games.

… and Clayton, too
Making his first start since Opening Day, left-hander Clayton Kershaw threw seven scoreless innings with nine K's and no walks and came away with the victory as the Dodgers defeated the Nationals, 8-3.

Kershaw has made 186 appearances in his career, with 31 of them seeing him finish the outing with at least seven innings and no runs allowed. His 31 such efforts are the most for any pitcher since 1914, followed by Frank Tanana (29), Jon Matlack (28), Hiroki Kuroda (28), Juan Marichal (27) and Fernando Valenzuela (27).

Through his first three seasons, Kershaw owned a 2.22 strikeout-to-walk ratio and a 126 ERA+. Since then, he owns a 4.26 ratio and a 168 ERA+.

Hudson pitching deep; stingy with walks
The Giants' Tim Hudson took the loss in a complete-game, 8 2/3-innings effort against the Pirates. Hudson, who was charged with two runs (one earned) in the outing, has gone at least seven innings in each of his first seven starts this season.

Hudson walked one with five strikeouts in this latest effort, and he has 36 strikeouts and just three walks on the season. The right-hander entered the year with a career strikeout-to-walk mark of 2.24, and he had never finished a season in the top 10 in his league in this category. Hudson is one of 28 pitchers to have thrown at least 2,000 innings between 1999 and 2013. Over that span, his 2.24 strikeout-to-walk ratio places him 19th among the 28.

Hudson has six games this season in which he has finished his outing with at least seven innings and no more than one walk. Those six through 33 team games tie him with Christy Mathewson (1914) and Marichal ('66) for the second most for the Giants since 1914, with Marichal also having seven such games in '68.

Pedroia works double time
In Boston's 4-3 walk-off win against Cincinnati, Dustin Pedroia collected a single and a pair of doubles, and he now has 13 two-base hits on the year. Those 13 tie Pedroia -- who led the American League in that category in 2008 -- for the second most in the league, and give him 300 for his career.

In 2,086 career at-bats at home, Pedroia has 187 doubles. In 2,079 career at-bats on the road, he has 113 two-baggers. He is the 33rd player to have at least 300 doubles through his first nine seasons, and he's one of five second basemen among the 33. For the position, Robinson Cano leads with 375, Billy Herman had 322, followed by Nap Lajoie (320) and Brian Roberts (318).

Since 1914, among players with at least 100 doubles on the road in their first nine seasons, Pedroia's gross difference between his road total and overall total (a difference of 187) is tied for the ninth largest. Not surprisingly -- thanks to the Green Monster -- three other Red Sox players make up the group of eight players ahead of Pedroia and Joe Sewell (who is also at 187): Wade Boggs (ranks first, with a difference of 240), Ted Williams (fifth, 200) and Carl Yastrzemski (eighth, 191) are other three Bostonians. The non-Red Sox: Joe Medwick (238), Albert Pujols (211), Todd Helton (203), Earl Averill (200) and Paul Waner (199).

Here and there
• The Rockies used a season-high 21 hits to cruise to a 12-1 win over the Rangers, with shortstop Troy Tulowitzki collecting a double and two singles. Tulowitzki now owns a .421/.522/.794/1.317 slash line through his club's first 35 games (he's played in 32 of them and has come to the plate 134 times). Over the past 20 seasons, that OPS stands as the fifth highest for any player through his team's first 35 contests (minimum 108 plate appearances). Only Barry Bonds (1.468 OPS in 2004 and 1.428 in '02), Todd Helton (1.336 in '00) and Josh Hamilton (1.321 in '12) had a better OPS.

• Detroit defeated Houston, 11-4, with Miguel Cabrera contributing a four-hit, four-RBI day at the plate. Cabrera -- who doubled and homered -- has 12 career games (in 1,688 total games) in which he has collected at least four hits and four RBIs. Since 1914, not many others can make the same (or a bolder) claim; Lou Gehrig had 17 such performances through his first 1,688 games, while Al Simmons had 13 and Dante Bichette also had 12. The only others with double-digit claims are Jeff Bagwell and Mike Piazza (10 apiece) and Charlie Gehringer and Bill Dickey (11 each).

Roger Schlueter is senior researcher for MLB Productions. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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