Jeremy Guthrie went from the scrapheap to the top of the heap.
Guthrie ran his unbeaten streak to a club record 17 consecutive starts with a four-hitter in the Kansas City Royals’ 2-0 victory over the Chicago White Sox on Saturday night.
Guthrie is 9-0 in the 17 starts, which started against the White Sox on Aug. 8, 2012. Left-hander Paul Splittorff held the Royals’ record with 16 straight undefeated starts in 1977-78.
This is in complete contrast to where Guthrie was at the start of last season. He went 3-9 with a 6.35 ERA with the Colorado Rockies, losing his final six decisions, before the Royals acquired him in a July 20 trade for left-hander Jonathan Sanchez.
”It was three long months there,” Guthrie said. ”I’d hate to bottle up seven years in the major leagues to three months, but certainly it wasn’t going well. In baseball, you can never take anything for granted. Someone can be on top of the game one month and in three or four months you can be out of the game.
”I was very fortunate to come over here.”
Guthrie gave credit to pitching coach Dave Eiland, catcher Salvador Perez and the Royals defense.
”That really helped me be able to get back on track and get that confidence back that I lacked with the struggles I had in Colorado and be able to feed off that,” Guthrie said.
It was Guthrie’s first shutout and fifth complete-game. Three of his previous complete games were eight-inning losses. His only previous complete-game victory came Aug. 8, 2008, for Baltimore at Seattle.
”He really kind of solidified our starting rotation when he got here last year,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. ”From that point on, I think it’s a great story. He was really struggling in Colorado and we made the deal for him and he just completely turned his career around. He’s worked very hard. He’s been very productive and very successful.”
Paul Konerko singled in the second and doubled in the fourth for the only White Sox hits until the eighth inning.
Tyler Flowers and Alejandro De Aza singled in the eighth, but Jeff Keppinger’s grounder to shortstop Alcides Escobar ended the inning.
Guthrie (4-0) threw 11 or fewer pitches in every inning except the fourth and eighth, when he threw 21 apiece.
Guthrie is 3-0 with a 0.40 ERA in six starts with the Royals against the White Sox, allowing two earned runs and 30 hits in 44 2/3 innings.
”He’s been tough on us,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. ”First, because he’s good. He was throwing it in and throwing it out. His off-speed was keeping us off balance. He seems to pick it up when we’re facing him. They’ve got good defense, too. There were a couple of little rollers and difficult kinds of plays, and they made them. He was Maddux-like, going for the two-hour mark. You have to pick your poison, you go after him early and then you pop it up. He’s tough.”
Dylan Axelrod (0-1) nearly matched Guthrie, but yielded a two-run triple to Lorenzo Cain in the first inning. Cain’s triple to the right-field corner scored Billy Butler, who was hit by a pitch, and Eric Hosmer, who singled for the first of his three hits.
Axelrod was pulled after Salvador’s Perez’s single with two out in the eighth. He gave up eight hits, walked one, hit two batters and struck out none, throwing 70 strikes in 113 pitches.
”It’s one of those games where Axe was good, but Guthrie was better,” Ventura said. ”That one ball to Rios (Cain’s two-run triple), a few feet closer and we’re still out there.”
Hosmer tripled to start the Royals’ third inning, but was stranded.
Chris Getz and Escobar singled in the second, but Billy Butler flied out to right to end the Royals’ threat.
Axelrod recorded his first 12 outs with fly balls before Butler grounded out to begin the fifth inning.
The Royals had 10 non-playing days in their first 33 dates, logging four rainouts, a postponement at Boston because of the marathon bombings and five scheduled days off. ”You just deal with the off days,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. ”Do you want `em? No, not really, not like we’ve had them. It is what it is, you can’t change it, you just deal with it.” . White Sox LF Dayan Viciedo, who is on the disabled list with a strained left oblique, took some swings Saturday and should be ready to start a minor league rehab soon.