Aug. 7, 2013
LEXINGTON, Ky. -- It was the 2010 offseason and former Kentucky star Andrew Albers was sleeping in a friend’s Lexington basement, borrowing another friend’s truck and looking for one more chance at affiliated baseball.
Albers was attempting to climb the improbable ladder, from independent league baseball to the major leagues.
After working into the ninth inning of his MLB debut for the Minnesota Twins at the Kansas City Royals on Tuesday night at Kauffman Stadium, Albers accomplished the unlikely.
The left-handed product of Saskatchewan, British Columbia, was called up to make his big league debut in a start for the Twins. In a game where the Twins pitching staff needed an innings-eating effort, Albers shined.
A former star for the Wildcats from 2004-08, Albers tossed 8.1 shutout innings – the longest outing by a Twins starter in 2013 – allowing just four singles and one walk in a sparkling MLB debut that saw the southpaw get his first career win in a 7-0 Twins result.
Albers is the first pitcher with more the eight scoreless innings pitched in his MLB debut since Andy Van Hekken for the Detroit Tigers in 2002. He is the first Twins pitcher to accomplish the feat since Mike Fornieles in 1952.
“He was going with what was working tonight,” Twins catcher Chris Herrmann said post-game to the Minnesota Star Tribune. “His fastball command was there, his cutter command was there, and we used a changeup here and there. But for the most part, we stuck to the fastball, inside. He pounded it inside. Albers doesn’t throw the hardest, but he hits his spots and has movement. When you’re throwing inside and it’s moving, it makes hitters uncomfortable.”
The 6-foot-1, 195-pounder faced the minimum through his first 15 career MLB batters faced and retired 16 consecutive hitters from the first to the sixth innings against a Royals team that had won 14 of their past 17 games and were coming off a 13-run outing Monday.
“It was special -- no question,” Albers said in a post-game story for MLB.com. “It's hard to put into words, but it was special. To be able to go out and have that kind of performance in your debut, unfortunately it's not going to get much better from there. So, I'm just going to enjoy this high and really enjoy tonight.”
Albers completed a stellar UK career in 2008 as a selection of the San Diego Padres in the 10th round of the MLB Draft. After having Tommy John surgery in 2009, Albers began his road back from injury and to the big leagues with the Quebec Capitales in the independent Can-Am League in 2010.
While looking for a return to affiliated baseball after his indy league run in 2010, Albers was working out in Lexington with the UK coaching staff. After impressing Twins scout Earl Winn, Albers was inked by Minnesota and shined in 2011 in high class A and in double-A. In 2012, Albers made 19 appearances and 17 starts in double-A, with a 3.75 ERA, walking just 12 in 98.1 innings.
Albers – who played with Team Canada in the World Baseball Classic – had an all-star season in the triple-A International League in 2013, earning an 11-5 record and a 2.86 ERA in 22 starts. He tossed 132.1 innings, walking just 32 and striking out 116. At the time of his promotion to the Twins, Albers ranked first in the IL in complete-games (three) and strikeouts, second in wins and innings pitched, and sixth in ERA and WHIP (1.18).
Over his four-year Kentucky career, Albers appeared in 81 games with 31 starts, owning a 20-18 record and a 4.47 ERA, saving 12 games. Albers worked 239.1 innings in his career, striking out 185 and ranks seventh in UK career history in wins (20), fifth in appearances (81) and fourth in saves (12).