Fernando Valenzuela added to what quickly was shaping to be an impressive rookie season with the Los Angeles Dodgers by logging a complete game and his fourth shutout of the year on April 27, 1981. The outing against the San Francisco Giants was his fifth of the season.
As he was in the process of blanking the Dodgers’ longtime rival, Valenzuela additionally broke a scoreless tie in the fourth inning. Mike Scioscia began the rally with a two-out single, which was followed by a base hit from Bill Russell.
Valenzuela then slapped an RBI single into right field, giving the Dodgers a 1-0 lead. It was one of his three hits on the day, which ran Valenzuela’s batting average to .438 on the season.
The Dodgers scored four runs in the fourth inning and tacked on another in the seventh to cap off a 5-0 victory.
Although Valenzuela turned in yet another shutout, he pitched through plenty of traffic during the start. The southpaw not only allowed seven hits but also issued seven walks. The Giants squandered a pair of free passes in the first inning and left two on after consecutive singles to open the second inning.
San Francisco also had two on with nobody out in the sixth inning when Darrell Evans and Larry Herndon hit back-to-back singles. Valenzuela escaped that bit of trouble behind a strikeout and double play.
He finished the outing by retiring nine of the final 10 batters faced from the seventh through ninth innings. To that point in the 1981 season, Valenzuela was 5-0 in five starts (each being a complete game), with a minuscule 0.20 ERA, 43 strikeouts in 45 innings and allowing just a .178 batting average.
His remarkable performances and start to the season spawned ‘Fernandomania’ and Valenzuela went on to be named the 1981 National League Rookie of the Year and Cy Young Award winner, and he also earned a Silver Slugger.
Mike Piazza, Corey Seager and Valenzuela are the only Dodgers players to win Rookie of the Year and a Silver Slugger Award in the same season.
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