My weekly observations and notes about some Canadian baseball stories:
· Left-hander James Paxton (Ladner, B.C.) allowed three runs in 1-1/3 innings in his return to the Seattle Mariners’ rotation on Friday after being out since August 11 with a left pectoral muscle strain. It was a disappointing performance, but with his return and North Battleford, Sask., southpaw Andrew Albers also toeing the rubber for the Mariners, it made me wonder how many times there have been two Canadian lefties in the same major league team’s rotation. Of course, I might be getting ahead of myself, because with the return of Paxton and Felix Hernandez this week, Albers pitched out of the Mariners’ bullpen. But if Albers, who is 5-1 with a 3.09 ERA in six games for the M’s, does get a start before the end of the season, it would be the third time that two Canadian southpaws have served in the same big league rotation. Scott Crawford at the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame helped me identify the two other sets of Canadians to pitch together in the same rotation: Mike Kilkenny (Bradford, Ont.) and John Hiller (Toronto, Ont.) for the 1969, 1970 and 1972 Detroit Tigers and Albers and Scott Diamond (Guelph, Ont.) for the Minnesota Twins in 2013.
· Speaking of Diamond, he took a perfect game into the eighth inning in his start for SK Wyverns of the Korean Baseball Organization on Thursday before settling for a complete-game, three-hit shutout. The Guelph, Ont., native is now 9-6 with a 4.18 ERA in 22 starts for the Korean club this season. The 31-year-old Diamond has spent parts of four seasons in the majors with the Twins (2011 to 2013) and Toronto Blue Jays (2016), compiling a 4.50 ERA in 59 games.
· With Jose Bautista’s days as a Blue Jay seemingly nearing their end, it’s hard to believe that it was seven years ago today that the right-handed hitting slugger belted his 48th home run of the 2010 season to break George Bell’s single-season franchise mark. Bautista’s record-breaking homer came off Boston Red Sox right-hander Michael Bowden in the sixth inning of a Blue Jays’ 11-9 win at Fenway Park.
· Congratulations to Calgary native Mike Soroka who has been named the Atlanta Braves organizational Pitcher of the Year. He was presented with the award at SunTrust Park in Atlanta on Friday. The 20-year-old righty posted an 11-8 record and a 2.75 ERA in 153 2/3 innings in 26 starts for double-A Mississippi this season. A Tournament 12 and Junior National Team alumnus, he has pitched parts of three seasons in the Braves organization since being selected in the first round (28th overall) of the 2015 MLB draft.
· Montreal native Jesen Therrien has been placed on the 60-day disabled list by the Philadelphia Phillies after being diagnosed with damage to his right ulnar collateral ligament. This could mean Tommy John surgery for the Canadian right-hander. Therrien posted a 8.35 ERA in 15 relief appearances in his first taste of big league action this season. Scouted by Canadian Alex Agostino, Therrien was selected in the 17th round of the 2011 MLB draft by the Phillies. The 24-year-old hurler was dominant in double-A and triple-A in 2017, posting a combined 1.41 ERA in 57-1/3 innings while registering 65 strikeouts.
· Twenty-four years ago today, one of the most touching scenes in Montreal Expos history took place at Olympic Stadium. In the seventh inning of the game that day, Expos outfielder Curtis Pride, who has been deaf since birth, clubbed a two-run double to left-centre field for his first major league hit. Expos fans rose to their feet and gave him a lengthy standing ovation. As Pride stood on second base, he looked over to third base coach Jerry Manuel for a sign and Manuel signaled for him to tip his cap. After the game, Pride said he couldn’t hear the cheers, but he could feel them. “I’ll remember it a lifetime,” said Pride of the ovation. The left-handed hitting outfielder eventually played parts of 11 big league seasons with the Expos, Detroit Tigers, Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees.
· Happy 36th Birthday to former Blue Jays closer Casey Janssen! The right-handed reliever began this season with Monclova of the Mexican League and in 15 appearances with the club, he posted a 4.30 ERA. The California native has not pitched in the majors since he registered a 4.95 ERA in 48 games for the Washington Nationals in 2015. Prior to that, he recorded a 3.52 ERA in 389 appearances for the Blue Jays from 2006 to 2014.
· Blue Jays’ 2010 first-round pick Deck McGuire made his major league debut on Tuesday when he tossed 1 2/3 scoreless innings for the Cincinnati Reds in the club’s 13-4 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals. After spending parts of five seasons in the Blue Jays’ organization, McGuire was released and pitched in the Los Angeles Dodgers’ and St. Louis Cardinals’ systems before being signed by the Reds in February. Now 28, the 6-foot-6 right-hander posted a 2.79 ERA in 28 starts for the Reds’ double-A Southern League Pensacola squad this season.
· 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: I mentioned earlier that just two Canadian left-handers have been in a major league starting rotation at the same time (three if Albers rejoins the M’s rotation this season). But there have been at least five sets of Canadian right-handers that have served in big league rotations together. Can you name one pair of Canadian right-handers who have pitched in a major league rotation together? The first person to provide the correct answer will win a 1973 Topps Juan Marichal card and a 1987 Donruss Greg Maddux rookie card.
· The answer to last week’s trivia question (What lefty holds the record for most strikeouts in a game by a Canadian?) was Erik Bedard (Navan, Ont.), who struck out 15 batters for the Baltimore Orioles on July 7, 2007.