By Kevin Glew
Cooperstowners in Canada
My weekly observations and notes about some Canadian baseball stories:
– Toronto Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins told reporters on Friday that there’s a chance that right-hander Jordan Romano (Markham, Ont.) could pitch in the club’s Wild-Card series which will begin on Tuesday. Romano has been sidelined with a strained middle finger on his throwing hand since August 28. Sportsnet’s Arden Zwelling reported on Friday that Romano had thrown a bullpen session that day and that the club will continue to evaluate the 27-year-old between now and the beginning of the playoffs. Romano, an Ontario Blue Jays and Junior National Team alum, had been the Blue Jays’ best reliever earlier this season. In 15 appearances, spanning 14 2/3 innings, he was 2-1 with a 1.23 ERA and had 21 strikeouts.
– If Romano is able to pitch in the post-season, he’ll join fellow Canadian Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (Montreal, Que.) on the Blue Jays’ roster. There will also be plenty of Canuck content on other big league rosters in the post-season. The Cleveland Indians will have two Canadians – Josh Naylor (Mississauga, Ont.) and Cal Quantrill (Port Hope, Ont.) – competing for them, while Joey Votto (Etobicoke, Ont.) will return to the playoffs with the Cincinnati Reds for the first time since 2013. Abraham Toro (Longueuil, Que.) will also be participating with the Houston Astros, while Tyler O’Neill (Maple Ridge, B.C.) will likely suit for the St. Louis Cardinals, whose playoff fate will be decided today. Unfortunately, three Canadian pitchers that would’ve figured prominently on their club’s playoff rosters are injured: Atlanta Braves right-hander Mike Soroka (Calgary, Alta.), New York Yankees lefty James Paxton (Ladner, B.C.) and Chicago Cubs righty Rowan Wick (North Vancouver, B.C.).
– Thank you to Canadian baseball historian Mike Murray for sharing with me that Votto ranks second among active players in games played for a player who has only competed for one big league team. Votto’s 1,769 games with the Reds trails only Yadier Molina’s 2,023 contests with the Cardinals. Ryan Braun, who has played all 1,764 of his major league games with the Milwaukee Brewers, is third.
– The Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame was able to add the lineup cards (pictured below) from the aforementioned Naylor’s and Quantrill’s first games with the Indians to their collection. The two Canadians were traded by the San Diego Padres to the Indians as part of a package for ace right-hander Mike Clevinger on August 31.
– Speaking of Canadians that have played for the Indians, have a listen to this excellent 39-minute podcast about Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame inductee Jack Graney created by the Cleveland Indians team historian Jeremy Feador. Feador provides an excellent summary of the St. Thomas, Ont., native’s career as an outfielder and broadcaster with the Tribe. He also includes some humorous anecdotes about Graney’s dog “Larry.”
– According to the Okotoks Dawgs Twitter feed on Wednesday, former Dawg Jim Henderson (Calgary, Alta.) has joined the Brewers in a coaching capacity for the final games of their regular season. The 6-foot-5 right-hander pitched parts of three major league seasons with the Brewers from 2012 to 2014. His best campaign came in 2013 when he posted a 2.70 ERA and recorded 28 saves in 61 games. He finished his MLB career by registering a 4.11 ERA in 44 appearances for the New York Mets in 2016.
– Thank you to Canadian baseball historian and co-founder of the Centre for Canadian Baseball Research, Andrew North, for sharing the following trivia with me from SABR-L list. On the list, there was a discussion about Minnesota Twins slugger Max Kepler hitting home runs in five consecutive at bats, spread over two games (June 6 and June 13, 2019) off then Indians right-hander Trevor Bauer. This matched a record achieved by Frank Howard when he socked home runs in five straight at bats off Bob Hendley (between May 29, 1963 and May 2, 1964) while he was with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Canadian Baseball Hall of Famer and Blue Jays slugger Carlos Delgado equalled this feat off Tampa Bay Rays right-hander Jorge Sosa across two games (September 25, 2003 and July 31, 2004). The conversation on the SABR-L list also mentioned Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame inductee and Huntsville, Ont., native George Selkirk’s home runs in four consecutive at bats off Philadelphia A’s right-hander Bob Joyce on May 27 and May 28, 1939 when Selkirk was with the Yankees.
– Sixty-three years ago today, Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame inductee Billy Harris (Duguayville, N.B.) made his big league debut for the Brooklyn Dodgers. With the legendary Roy Campanella as his battery mate, Harris allowed three runs on nine hits, while striking out three, in seven innings but suffered a tough-luck 3-2 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies at Connie Mack Stadium. The Canadian right-hander was relieved by Sandy Koufax in the eighth inning. Harris also recorded his only major league hit that day when he singled to centre field off Phillies right-hander Jack Sanford in the fifth inning.
– I’ve never witnessed a no-hitter in person, but the closest I came was 22 years ago today at SkyDome when I was seated down the right field line to watch Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame inductee and Blue Jays right-hander Roy Halladay carry a no-hitter into the top of the ninth inning in his second big league start. He had two outs when Detroit Tigers pinch-hitter Bobby Higginson belted a solo home run and Halladay had to settle for a complete-game one-hitter in the Blue Jays’ 2-1 win.
– On this date 37 years ago, Tim Raines went 3-for-4 and had four RBIs in the Montreal Expos’ 10-4 win over the Cardinals at Busch Stadium. His four RBIs gave him 71 on the season, making him the first major league player since Ty Cobb with the Tigers in 1915 to record 70 stolen bases and 70 RBIs in the same season.
– It was 28 years ago today that Jack Morris registered his 20th win of the 1992 season for the Blue Jays to become the first 20-game winner in franchise history. Morris allowed just three hits in six scoreless innings in the Blue Jays’ 12-2 win over the Yankees at Yankee Stadium.
– This week’s trivia question: Aside from Morris, five other pitchers have won 20 games in a season for the Blue Jays. Name two of them. Please provide your answer in the “Comments” section below. Please note: I’m going to hold off awarding prizes until after the COVID-19 pandemic. Hope you understand.
– The answer to last week’s trivia question (Who was the first major league player to suit up for the Montreal Expos and Toronto Blue Jays? Hint: He played with the Expos first in the early 1970s.) was shortstop Hector Torres who played 83 games for the Expos in 1972 and then was the starting shortstop and batted second for the Blue Jays in their first-ever game on April 7, 1977.