The rain came. The runs never did. And that's how Anthony Ranaudo tossed the shortest complete-game shutout possible in the game of baseball.
The No. 8 Red Sox prospect struck out seven and scattered two hits and two walks across five innings Tuesday to lead Triple-A Pawtucket to a rain-shortened 8-0 win over Lehigh Valley. The effort represented the first complete game and shutout of Ranaudo's Minor League career, which has spanned 66 appearances across four different levels.
Ranaudo (2-2) didn't allow a hit until the fourth inning, when he gave up back-to-back singles to Jim Murphy and Reid Brignac. He hit his stride in the next frame, striking out Sebastian Valle, Troy Hanzawa and Clete Thomas on the minimum nine pitches.
The game underwent a delay afterward and was called in the top of the sixth, having completed the minimum five innings. Ranaudo finished with 82 pitches, 53 for strikes.
The showing represented a bounceback effort of sorts for the 24-year-old right-hander, who lasted only three innings after giving up three runs (two earned) on six hits and four walks last time out against Rochester. His seven strikeouts Tuesday tied a season high, first set in his 2014 debut that also came against the IronPigs on April 4.
The former LSU star's 32 punchouts on the season rank fourth in the International League. He sports a 3.77 ERA through six starts (28 2/3 innings) this season. Armed with a fastball and curveball that both earned above-average 60 grades from MLB.com, he was added to the Red Sox 40-man roster in the offseason after going 11-5 with a 2.96 ERA and 127 strikeouts between Double-A Portland and Pawtucket in 2013.
Of the 11 shutouts thrown by a single pitcher in the Minor Leagues this season, only two have gone the normal nine innings. The remaining nine, including top Red Sox prospect Henry Owens's seven-inning no-hitter, have been part of a doubleheader or were shortened due to weather.
Bryce Brentz -- Boston's No. 15 prospect -- helped Ranaudo's cause with a second-inning grand slam off Lehigh Valley starter Barry Enright (0-2). It was the second home run in as many games for the right fielder, giving him four on the season. With multiple RBIs in four of his last five contests, Brentz now ranks third in the IL in the category with 22 in 26 games. Only Pirates top prospect Gregory Polanco (25) and the recently released Ernesto Mejia (24) have more in the Triple-A circuit.