This day in Los Angeles Dodgers history saw Fernando Valenzuela throw a complete-game shutout and drive in the game’s only run with an RBI single in a 1-0 victory over the Houston Astros. Valenzuela’s start at the Astrodome on April 22, 1981 was his fourth of a magical season.
Facing the Astros for a second time in two weeks, Valenzuela worked around seven hits and three walks to keep them off the scoreboard. He did so largely behind 11 strikeouts, which at the time marked a season high and a third consecutive start with at least 10.
The outing was a third shutout in four starts to begin the 1981 season and the fourth of five consecutive complete games.
While Valenzuela was blanking the Astros from the mound, the Dodgers failed to get much of anything going at the plate. They finished with only six hits, two of which came from Valenzuela.
Pedro Guerrero led off the fifth inning with a double and on the verge of being stranded, Valenzuela broke up the scoreless tie with an RBI base hit to left field.
Houston had multiple opportunities to erase the Dodgers’ 1-0 lead as they put the at least one runner on base in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings. Valenzuela finally managed to retire the side in order in the ninth, ending the game with a strikeout.
He went on to finish the season 13-7 with a 2.48 ERA, 11 complete games, eight shoutouts and led all pitchers with 180 strikeouts. Valenzuela was named the 1981 National League Rookie of the Year, took home the NL Cy Young and also won a Silver Slugger Award.
Valenzuela became the first pitcher to win the Rookie of the Year and Cy Young Awards in the same season.
Valenzuela celebrated at Dodger Stadium
During their first homestand of the 2021 regular season, the Dodgers celebrated the 40th anniversary of Fernandomania during a pregame ceremony. The beloved left-hander is also featured in the renovated center plaza area with a mural and display commemorating both his impressive rookie season and overall career.
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