My weekly observations about stories around the baseball world from a Canadian perspective (Please follow me on Twitter: @kevinglewsports):
– Dorchester, Ont., native Chris Robinson recorded his first big league hit in style last night when he belted a three-run, pinch-hit homer in the eighth inning off of Arizona Diamondbacks reliever Eury De La Rosa. His homer gave the Padres an 11-2 lead in a contest they eventually won 12-2. After the homer, Dan Haugh, media relations liaison for the London Badgers, noted in a press release that Robinson was now tied with Adam Stern (London, Ont.) for most big league homers hit by a former Badger. You can view Robinson’s home run here
– A multiple choice question for you: If you’re a Toronto Blue Jays fan, which of the following scenarios is most depressing about this year’s post-season? A) You will be forced to watch the Boston Red Sox managed by John Farrell and coached by ex-Jays instructors Brian Butterfield and Torey Lovullo. B) The Tampa Bay Rays will likely employ a starting lineup featuring much-maligned ex-Jays – Yunel Escobar, Kelly Johnson and Jose Molina (OK, Molina was not as “maligned” as Escobar and Johnson.). C) Former Jay A.J. Burnett is likely to start the Pittsburgh Pirates’ first playoff game.
– Not only will the Rays have Escobar, Johnson and Molina on their post-season roster, they also activated Toronto-born right-hander Jesse Crain on Tuesday. Crain was having a Tip O’Neill Award-worthy (Canadian ball hall’s award for top Canadian) season, until a shoulder injury sidelined him at the end of June. Sporting a microscopic 0.74 ERA in 38 games this season, Crain, who was dealt to the Rays by the White Sox on July 29, could be a valuable addition to the Rays bullpen if he’s truly healthy.
– Prominent baseball writer and Montreal native Jonah Keri recently shared on his Facebook page that a 1994 Montreal Expos reunion will be held in conjunction with the two exhibition games the Blue Jays will play against the New York Mets at Olympic Stadium on March 28 and 29, 2014. The Expos owned the best record in baseball in 1994 when the players went on strike on August 11. Their action would eventually force the cancellation of the rest of the regular season and the playoffs. For more information about the 1994 Montreal Expos reunion, click here.
– The Winnipeg Goldeyes are one of the most successful independent professional franchises in North America. They continue to draw well, even as minor league teams have disappeared from other major Canadian cities. What some don’t realize is that the city has a rich baseball history thanks in large part to former affiliations with the St. Louis Cardinals and Montreal Expos. Some of the big leaguers who honed their skills in Winnipeg include Ray Sadecki (1958), Dal Maxvill (1960, 1961), Elrod Hendricks (1962, 1963), Walt “No Neck” Williams (1964), Steve Carlton (1964), Steve Rogers (1971), Mike Torrez (1971) and Jimy Williams (1970, 1971).
– In this lost season, the Toronto Blue Jays can take some consolation in the fact that their home attendance (2,431,491) is the highest it has been since 1998 (2,454,303).
– A box score that I recently stumbled upon: On September 25, 1977, Swift Current, Sask., native Reggie Cleveland, then with the Boston Red Sox, scattered 18 hits – yes 18 – over nine innings in a complete-game 12-5 win over the Detroit Tigers at Tiger Stadium. Cleveland is reportedly the last big league pitcher to toss an 18-hit, nine-inning complete game. This was arguably the ugliest of his 105 career wins. The 6-foot-1 right-hander was inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in 1986. It’s also interesting to note that 2012 Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame inductee Rusty Staub had two of the 18 hits off of Cleveland in that game.
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