For the first time in an eight-year professional baseball career that has included more than 140 starts, James Avery
tossed a nine-inning shutout. As it turned out, he and his Erie SeaWolves would need every one of those scoreless frames to secure the victory Thursday afternoon.
The 27-year-old right-hander -- in his first season as a member of the Tigers organization after spending the past seven with the Reds -- scattered five hits and a walk while striking out a career-high eight batters as the SeaWolves edged the visiting Altoona Curve, 1-0. Avery improved to 4-1 while lowering his ERA to 1.72 in five starts. He threw a total of 113 pitches, 70 for strikes.
Avery pitched around a double and a single in the first and another double in the second before setting down 14 straight Curve hitters. He also dodged some trouble in the final frame, yielding a single and his lone walk of the game. But the veteran kept his composure and got Ramon Cabrera to fly out to center field to end the game.
Curve starter Kris Johnson matched Avery's zeroes for five innings before giving way to Jhonathan Ramos, who hurled two more shutout frames for Altoona. But the SeaWolves broke through in the bottom of the eighth when Niuman Romero, who entered the game as runner-up in the Eastern League in hits, led off with a double and scored on Ben Guez's single off Victor Black (0-1).
As for Avery, his only other complete game came nearly six years ago as a member of the now-defunct Sarasota Reds. He hurled seven four-hit frames in a 1-0 win against the Fort Myers Miracle in the opener of a doubleheader back on July 9, 2006.
A native of Maple Creek, Saskatchewan, Avery was selected in the fifth round of the 2005 Draft by the Cincinnati Reds and made his professional debut that summer in the Gulf Coast League.
His career-low ERA in a season is 2.89, which he achieved in 2009 as a member of the Double-A Carolina Mudcats. He's made two career Triple-A starts, once in 2006 and again in 2010, both with the Louisville Bats.