BOSTON — Red Sox starting pitcher Tanner Houck was in complete control from the first inning to the last frame Wednesday night against the Cleveland Guardians.

The end result? A masterpiece of a performance.

Houck tossed a complete-game shutout to lead the Red Sox to a 2-0 win at Fenway Park. He needed just 94 pitches to twirl the gem and limited the Guardians to just three hits while striking out nine and issuing no walks.

“I think this is one of those nights you probably get one or maybe two of these a season if you’re lucky,” Houck said. “It’s where you go out there and feel like you can do no wrong. You can throw no wrong pitch in any count. I truly feel blessed to go out there and help this team win.”

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Houck was remarkably efficient to get the job done. He threw 69 of his pitches for strikes while leaning on his slider and cutter. He only allowed one base runner after the fourth inning as he retired the final 13 batters he faced.

The biggest difference for Houck was trying not to do too much on the mound and just pound the zone.

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“I have that tendency where I care so much that I over-try,” Houck said. “I give 120% instead of just pulling it back and giving it what I have. Very special night in terms of having all my pitches working in a way that I just felt comfortable throwing anything in any count.”

Even though Red Sox manager Alex Cora likes to preserve starters and hand things over to the bullpen an inning early rather than an inning too late, he was confident in Houck finishing what he started. Houck had never thrown more than seven innings in a game in his career.

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“It just seemed like he was just playing catch with Connor (Wong),” Cora said. “Some quick outs. There was never a thought of going to the bullpen to be honest with you. That was his game.”

Houck trotted back out to the mound for the ninth inning to a standing ovation. He barely paid any attention to it, though. He had nothing but setting down the Guardians on his mind and he induced three straight grounders to make that happen.

“Go out there business as usual,” Houck said. “Go get strike one, strike two and get these guys out. You can bask in that stuff after. Definitely just going out there focused knowing what I had to do.”

Houck became the first Red Sox pitcher to throw a complete-game shutout since Michael Wacha did so two seasons ago and was the first since Clay Buchholz in 2014 to accomplishment the feat in under 100 pitches.

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It was a moment that Houck knows is a rarity, especially in this day of advanced analytics. And that’s why it jumps to the top of his list in career achievements.

“I’ll definitely put it in the top two,” Houck said. “I think pitching in the playoffs in ’21 is definitely up there for me. That’s an experience I’ll never forget. This is definitely No. 1 for sure.”

Here are more notes from Wednesday’s Red Sox-Guardians game:

— Houck’s dominant display helped lower Boston’s starters ERA to an MLB-best 1.85. It’s the lowest ERA from Red Sox starters through 19 games in the live ball era.

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“They bought into the concept of throwing their best stuff over the plate,” Cora said. “And they have different stuff now. There’s a cutter here, or the split is better and the slider is better.”

— It only took the Red Sox and Guardians one hour and 49 minutes to complete nine innings. It was Boston’s shortest nine-inning game since 1975.

“Where we’re at in the game, in the business, it’s a better game as far as the pace,” Cora said.

— Jarren Duran and Connor Wong combined for four out of Boston’s five hits — they both had two apiece. Wong homered in the second straight game as he delivered a solo blast into the Green Monster seats in the bottom of the fourth.

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“It’s been good at the plate,” Wong said. “Thoughts are simple and swinging at good pitches.”

— Rafael Devers avoided a serious injury after leaving early from Tuesday’s game with left knee discomfort. But Devers didn’t look comfortable at the plate at times and went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts.

— The Red Sox look for a split of their four-game series with the Guardians on Thursday afternoon. First pitch from Fenway Park is scheduled for 1:35 p.m. ET, and you can watch the game, plus an hour of pregame coverage, on NESN.

Featured image via Eric Canha/USA TODAY Sports Images