KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Andrew Albers allowed four hits while pitching into the ninth inning in his major league debut Tuesday night, easily outdueling Royals ace James Shields and leading the Minnesota Twins to a 7-0 victory over Kansas City.
The first big leaguer from Saskatchewan in more than 20 years, Albers at one point retired 15 straight.
He was two outs shy of his third straight complete game dating back to Triple-A Rochester, and the first shutout in a big league debut since Detroit's Andy Van Hekken did it in 2002.
The Twins took most of the pressure off with a big night at the plate. Brian Dozier homered and drove in three runs, and Justin Morneau and Chris Colabello also went deep for the Twins.
All that damage came against Shields (6-8), who even balked in a run during his worst start in nearly two years.
The former All-Star gave up three runs in the first inning and never settled down the rest of the evening, laboring through six innings on a humid night at Kauffman Stadium.
The Twins hammered Shields right from the start, too. Dozier's homer was the first leadoff shot for Minnesota since Denard Span went deep against the Phillies on June 12, 2012.
Jamey Carroll promptly worked a walk and Morneau, who came into the game hitting .371 against Shields, added a two-run shot later in the first to stake the Twins to a 3-0 lead.
Shields continued to struggle with his command in the second inning, walking Chris Herrmann to lead it off and then plunking Clete Thomas. Doug Bernier laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt to move both runners up, and Herrmann scored on Dozier's sacrifice fly.
Colabello hit his third homer of the year in the fourth, and then plunged Shields into more trouble with a leadoff single in the sixth. Herrmann added a single to put runners on the corners, and a balk by Shields on a pickoff move to third base brought in another run.
Dozier drove in his third of the game with a single to make it 7-0.
It was the first time Shields allowed at least seven runs since Aug. 21, 2011, when he was still with Tampa Bay. The three homers he allowed were the most since June 2 of the same year.
All that run support, on the heels of a shutout by the Royals, certainly made it a comfortable debut for Albers, whose long and winding route to the majors was anything but easy.
The first big leaguer from Saskatchewan since 1991, when Terry Puhl retired, Albers showed promise when he was drafted by the Padres in 2008.
But he needed Tommy John surgery the next year and was released before showing what he could do with a rebuilt elbow, finally ending up with the Quebec Capitales of the Can-Am League when he was healthy enough to pitch again.
Albers failed to impress in a pair of big league tryouts in Arizona in 2011, but he was willing to drive at his own expense to Florida for another try with the Twins.
His only other option to head home to North Battleford and get on with life, Albers showed just enough to earn himself a job.
He was 11-5 with a 2.86 ERA in 22 starts for Triple-A Rochester this season before getting his long-awaited call to fill in for Scott Diamond, who'd been demoted after his own struggles.
After his dazzling debut, Albers could be sticking around a while.
He allowed a single in the first that was erased by a double play, and then retired 15 straight before Alcides Escobar singled in the sixth. The Royals got another single in the seventh before putting two aboard with one out in the ninth.
Twins reliever Casey Fien entered the game as Albers received a standing ovation, and walked Billy Butler to load the bases before getting a double play grounder to end the game.
Notes: The Royals will recall LHP Danny Duffy from Triple-A Omaha to start Wednesday night against the Twins' Samuel Deduno. It will be Duffy's first big league start since May 2012 after having Tommy John surgery. ... Twins 3B Trevor Plouffe was held out of the lineup as a precaution after tumbling head-first into the dugout to catch a foul ball Monday. ... Twins SS Pedro Florimon (sore left wrist) took BP and could start Wednesday. ... Twins OF Darin Mastrioianni (left ankle stress reaction) left to begin a minor league rehab assignment with Triple-A Rochester.
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