My weekly observations and notes about some Canadian baseball stories:
· Joey Votto (Etobicoke, Ont.) had reached base at least twice in 20 consecutive games until his streak was snapped on Wednesday. He fell one game short of tying Ted Williams’ record for most consecutive games reaching base two or more times. Aside from Williams, the only other players since 1900 to have reached base at least twice in 20 consecutive games are Pete Rose (1979) and Barry Bonds (2004). Since Votto’s streak ended on Wednesday, he has since reached base two or more times in three straight games and currently leads the National League with a .447 on-base percentage and 100 walks.
· MLB.com reporter Greg Johns cleverly dubbed Andrew Albers (North Battleford, Sask.) “Little Maple” prior to his start for the Seattle Mariners on Tuesday in place of “Big Maple” James Paxton (Ladner, B.C.) who’s sidelined with a left pectoral muscle strain. Albers is 6-foot-1, 200 pounds, while Paxton measures in at 6-foot-4, 235 pounds. “Little Maple” held the Baltimore Orioles to one run in five innings on Tuesday to pick up his first major league win in four years in the M’s 3-1 victory. The Mariners added Albers from the Atlanta Braves for cash considerations on August 11. The 31-year-old southpaw had posted a 12-3 record with a 2.61 ERA and had fanned 115 batters in 120-2/3 innings for the triple-A Gwinnett Braves prior to being dealt to the M’s. Albers had previously registered a 4.41 ERA in 17 big league contests in parts of three seasons with the Minnesota Twins and Toronto Blue Jays between 2013 and 2016.
· Forty-six years ago today, Chatham, Ont., native and Chicago Cubs ace Fergie Jenkins registered his 20th win of his 1971 National League Cy Young Award-winning season. The durable right-hander tossed a complete game – his 24th of that campaign – in the Cubs’ 3-2 win over the Houston Astros at Wrigley Field. Jenkins would win four more games in 1971 and finish the season with a league-leading 30 complete games.
· Toronto Blue Jays right-hander Marco Estrada will start the club’s series finale against the Cubs at Wrigley Field today. This means he won’t have to face the Tampa Bay Rays in the Blue Jays’ final series against their American League East rival this week. This has to be a relief for both Estrada and the Blue Jays. In four starts against the Rays in 2017, Estrada is 0-4 with 10.61 ERA and has allowed 22 earned runs in 18-2/3 innings. Against all of the rest of his opponents this season, Estrada is 5-4 with 4.50 ERA.
· Toronto native Connor Panas batted .352 with a .443 on-base percentage with 37 hits, including six home runs and 23 RBI in 30 games for the class-A Advanced Dunedin Blue Jays in July. The 24-year-old outfielder also owns a .514 slugging percentage in 18 games in August. On a Dunedin team that boasts top prospects – Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette – Panas’ offensive contributions have been overshadowed, but the 2015 ninth-round pick has quietly transformed himself into one of the better hitting prospects in the organization.
· It was 25 years ago today that Blue Jays left-hander David Wells was rocked for 13 earned runs in 4-1/3 innings in a start against the Milwaukee Brewers at County Stadium. This remains a Blue Jays’ record for most earned runs allowed in a game. Needless to say, this outing probably didn’t help Wells’ already strained relationship with Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston. The Blue Jays went on to lose 16-3.
· Happy 57th Birthday to former Montreal Expos left-hander Mark Langston, who gets a bad rap in the club’s history. The Expos acquired Langston on May 25, 1989 in exchange for a trio of pitching prospects that included future Hall of Famer Randy Johnson, Brian Holman and Gene Harris. No, the Expos didn’t make the playoffs that season after landing Langston, but it certainly wasn’t due to their new lefty’s performance. In 24 starts with the Expos, Langston posted a 2.39 ERA, which ranked third in the National League. He also averaged 8.9 strikeouts per nine innings which was the best among National League starting pitchers and he tossed six complete games and four shutouts for the Expos, before signing a five-year, $16-million deal with the California Angels after the season that temporarily made him the highest paid player in major league history.
· If you’re a Canadian baseball history buff (like me), mark November 18th and 19th on your calendar. Crackerjack Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame volunteer and longtime SABR member Andrew North has announced that the second annual Canadian Baseball History Symposium will take place at the St. Marys Golf & Country Club in St. Marys, Ont., on those dates. This year’s event, which will again be organized by North, will include presentations about 19th-century player Bob Addy and manager William Watkins, baseball and Canadian soldiers in World War I and the Chatham Coloured All-Stars. There will also be a pictorial history quiz based on images and a panel discussion of what defines being Canadian, and the consequences of that definition for baseball research. The registration fee is $60. To register, please email Andrew North at firstname.lastname@example.org.
· This week’s trivia question: Chatham, Ont., native Fergie Jenkins won 20 games in a season seven times during his major league career. Two other Canadians have also won 20 games in a season at the major league level. Can you name one of them? Please provide your answer in the Comments section below. The first person to provide the correct answer will win a 1983 Donruss Reggie Jackson card and a 1984 O-Pee-Chee Rickey Henderson card.
· The answer to last week’s trivia question (Rickey Henderson purchased the jersey No. 24 from Turner Ward when he played with the Blue Jays in 1993. After Henderson departed, two Canadians later wore No. 24 for the Blue Jays. Can you name them?) was Matt Stairs and Paul Spoljaric.