Set off the Fourth of July fireworks for Sam Howard of the Colorado Rockies organization.
Howard had his best game since joining the Triple-A Albuquerque Isotopes Tuesday night with an eight-inning, ten strikeout performance that shutout the visiting Sacramento River Cats 2-0 at Isotopes Park.
The former Cartersville High School and Georgia Southern southpaw is now 2-1 with the Isotopes and needed only 91 pitches to dominate his eight innings of work. He scattered three hits and did not issue a walk.
Howard is now 3-5 with a 2.81 ERA in 14 starts split between Double-A Hartford of the Eastern League and Triple-A Albuquerque of the Pacific Coast League. He has pitched 73 and 2/3 innings with 66 strikeouts, a 1.00 WHIP, and a .210 batting average against.
Howard was spectacular Tuesday evening in front of 15,664 fans. It was the fifth-largest crowd in Isotopes Park history and his 10 strikeouts matched his career-high.
When Howard left the game in the middle of the eighth, the game was scoreless. Opposing pitcher Jose Flores also had an impressive outing, but Tom Murphy smashed a solo home run for Albuquerque in the bottom of the eighth and Daniel Castro added a sacrifice fly later in the frame to give the Isotopes a 2-0 lead. Reliever Jairo Diaz closed out the ninth for the home team to complete the shutout.
The Isotopes are 41-43 following Tuesday night’s win and are in second place at 5.5 games behind Pacific Southern Division leading Salt Lake Bees of the Los Angeles Angels’ organization.