One run of support is all Michael Wacha needed to put together one of the best performances of his career on Monday night.
Wacha, making his ninth start of the season, threw a complete game shutout to lead the Red Sox to a 1-0 victory over the slumping Angels at Angel Stadium. The veteran right-hander dazzled by allowing just three hits and one walk to go along with six strikeouts over nine dominant frames.
Boston’s lone run came in the top of the second inning, when Christian Vazquez drove in Alex Verdugo all the way from first base on an RBI single off Los Angeles starter Noah Syndegaard. Besides that, the Sox lineup went 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position and left seven runners on base as a team.
That did not matter for Wacha, though, as he worked his way around two singles in the first inning with the help of a double play and at one point retired 15 straight batters before giving up a two-out double to Matt Duffy in the sixth.
Duffy, representing the potential tying run, was stranded at second base when Wacha reached back and struck out the dangerous Shohei Ohtani on a foul tip. His last two pitches to Ohtani — both fastballs — registered at 96.4 and 96.6 mph, respectively. They are his two fastest pitches of the season to date.
From there, Wacha maneuvered his way around a leadoff walk in the seventh by inducing another twin killing before fanning two in a clean eighth and retiring the side in order in the ninth. He fittingly put an exclamation point on his outing by getting Ohtani to ground out to second for the third and final out.
Finishing with a final pitch count of 105 (71 strikes), Wacha improved to 4-1 on the season while lowering his ERA down to 1.99. The 30-year-old hurler became the third Red Sox pitcher to toss a complete game this season, joining Nathan Eovaldi and Nick Pivetta. Boston currently leads all of baseball in complete games thrown.
With the win, the Red Sox extend their winning streak to five straight games to improve to 28-27 on the season. This is the first time since April 19 that they are over .500. The Angels, meanwhile, dropped their 12th straight game and are now 27-29, or 1/2 games back of the Sox in the American League Wild Card standings.
Next up: Whitlock on deck
The Red Sox will send right-hander Garrett Whitlock to the mound as they look to continue their winning ways on Tuesday night. The Angels, on the other hand, have yet to name a starter.
First pitch from Angel Stadium is scheduled for 9:38 p.m. eastern time on NESN and MLB Network.
(Picture of Michael Wacha: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)