Never did he ever. Royals right-handed pitcher Glenn Sparkman hadn’t tossed a complete game at any level during his baseball career before Tuesday night at Kauffman Stadium.
Sparkman became the first Royals pitcher to toss a shutout since Jason Vargas against the Cleveland Indians on June 2, 2017.
More than two years had gone by, and the first guy to accomplish the feat wasn’t even on the opening day roster.
Heck, Sparkman’s first three appearances this season were in relief before he was sent back to the minors.
None of that mattered against the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday, because Sparkman found a rhythm and got crucial defense behind him in an 11-0 win over a division rival. Sparkman (3-5) registered a career-high eight strikeouts along the way. Sparkman also threw a career-high 116 pitches.
“He came up to me and said just keep going, in the eighth,” Sparkman said. “That’s when he, Ned, asked how you feeling. I said I’m feeling great, so in the ninth he’s like keep going. I was all adrenaline and excited. I just kept going.”
Sparkman, who has started 10 games this season (including one spot start during a doubleheader), became the first Royals right-hander to earn a shutout since Johnny Cueto on Aug. 10, 2015.
Sparkman stepped into the starting rotation at the end of May when Jorge Lopez moved to the bullpen full-time. He’d started just three games in the majors before this season.
“There was great plays all over, so like every inning there was something that just kept giving me that drive,” Sparkman said.
Sparkman walked just one batter, allowed five hits (all singles) and held the White Sox to two at-bats with runners in scoring position (0-for-2).
“He had everything working,” Royals manager Ned Yost said of Sparkman. “He threw the ball extremely well.”
Sparkman had fallen victim to the home run in each of his past six starts. He’d given up 11 homers in that stretch, but he’d made a mechanical adjustment in his previous start on the road against the Washington Nationals that helped him have more consistent command.
“It’s really big when we can score and then go out and have a quick inning,” Royals All-Star Whit Merrifield said. “It really deflates the other side, and Sparky did a great job with that tonight. His stuff was dynamite, and we needed it.”