Jim Abbott rebounded from a shaky performance Wednesday night and proved something to himself as well as to the Boston Red Sox.
The rookie hurled a four-hit shutout, his first, as the surging California Angels blasted Roger Clemens for five first inning runs and went on to snuff the Red Sox 5-0.California staked Abbott to a 5-0 lead, a cushion he had not experienced so far this season.
"Five eases the pressure," Abbott said. "It's unbelievable to have that kind of a lead against anyone, not to mention Roger Clemens."
Abbott, born without a right hand, struck out four and walked two in improving to 3-3. The outing was the first complete game in seven starts for the 21-year-old Abbott, who has no minor league experience.
The crowd of 31,230 gave Abbott a standing ovation when he took the mound for the ninth inning and another ovation after he retired Ellis Burks on a groundout to end the game.
After giving up five runs in three innings of work in a 5-2 loss to the Yankees last Friday, there was pressure on Abbott.
"Yeah, a few of my friends called me up, but I wasn't thinking about that," Abbott said. "I was going out there against myself, not against Roger Clemens or even the Red Sox."
The California defense helped Abbott by turning four doubleplays.
"Coming off that last start, I just thought it was a bad day, but it didn't mean I was a bad pitcher," the University of Michigan product said. "The most gratifying thing about tonight is that I came back out and proved it."
Boston never got a runner past first base as California posted its ninth shutout this season, matching the club's total number of shutouts for all of last year.
The Angels, who have won five straight and 16 of their last 19, are 17-4 against American League East teams. Their 26-13 record matches the 1970 and 1982 California clubs for the team's best start ever.
Boston has now dropped four straight and dropped into second place behind Cleveland, which defeated Toronto 6-3 Wednesday night.
With one out in the first inning, Clemens yielded singles to Johnny Ray and Devon White. Brian Downing struck out but Wally Joyner walked to load the baes. Chili Davis then lined a three-run double to left.
Lance Parrish followed with his third homer of the year and a 5-0 lead.