By Kevin Glew
Cooperstowners in Canada
My weekly observations and notes about some Canadian baseball stories:
-On Friday, Cincinnati Reds slugger Joey Votto homered in his seventh straight game to break Trail, B.C. native Jason Bay’s Canadian major league record. Bay homered in six consecutive games for the Pittsburgh Pirates from May 22 to May 28, 2006. With his home run on Friday, Votto (Etobicoke, Ont.) became just the eighth player in MLB history to go deep in seven consecutive games, tying for the second longest streak with Kendrys Morales (2018), Kevin Mench (2006), Barry Bonds (2004) and Jim Thome (2002). Unfortunately, Votto didn’t homer last night, though he did come within inches of doing so when he lined a ball off the top of the right field wall in the eighth inning off New York Mets reliever Seth Lugo at Citi Field. If that ball had gone over the wall, Votto would’ve tied the major league record of eight consecutive games with a home run held by Dale Long (1956), Don Mattingly (1987) and Ken Griffey Jr. (1993). According to the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame, two other Canadians have homered in five consecutive games: Matt Stairs (Fredericton, N.B.) in 1998 and Larry Walker (Maple Ridge, B.C.) the following year.
–Right-hander Cal Quantrill (Port Hope, Ont.) allowed just one run on four hits in six innings on Tuesday in his final start of the month for the Cleveland Indians. That finished off an excellent July for the Ontario Terriers and Junior National Team alum that saw him go 2-0 with a 2.86 ERA in five starts, while striking out 16 batters in 28 1/3 innings. In total this season, Quantrill sports a 3.66 ERA in 29 appearances (11 starts). He started last season with the San Diego Padres before he was traded to Cleveland on August 31. He’s now in his third major league campaign.
– On Tuesday, infielder Abraham Toro (Longueuil, Que.) was dealt to the Seattle Mariners from the Houston Astros, along with right-hander Joe Smith, for relievers Kendall Graveman and Rafael Montero. Toro has adjusted well to his new club. He belted a pinch-hit home run in first at bat for the Mariners on Tuesday and then hit another round-tripper on Wednesday in his first start. He followed that up with three hits on Friday and another one on Saturday. He is 6-for-14 (.429 batting average) in his first four games with the M’s. Toro, who’s playing second base for the M’s, made his MLB debut with the Astros in 2018, but had struggled to find a permanent position with the team. The switch-hitting 24-year-old made his big league debut on August 22, 2019. In 25 games for the American League pennant winning Astros that season, he batted .218 with two home runs. One of his homers was a two-run shot at Rogers Centre that accounted for the only two runs in Justin Verlander’s no-hitter against the Blue Jays on September 1.
-After pitching three scoreless innings in three appearances for the Chicago Cubs’ class-A South Bend Cubs to start his rehabilitation assignment earlier in July, right-hander Rowan Wick (North Vancouver, B.C.), who had been sidelined since last September with an oblique injury, has been promoted to the triple-A Iowa Cubs. In his first appearance in triple-A on Wednesday, however, he was rocked for five runs while recording just one out. He made his second appearance last night and didn’t allow a run in 1 1/3 innings. The hard-throwing right-hander had been a go-to, late-inning reliever for the Cubs in 2019 and 2020. Last season, he led Canadian big league pitchers in appearances (19) and saves (4), while posting a 3.12 ERA and striking out 20 in 17 1/3 innings before being shut down. The Vancouver Cannons and Junior National Team alum is a converted catcher who made his big league debut with the Padres in 2018.
-Happy 69th Birthday to legendary Quebec baseball writer and Jack Graney Award winner Serge Touchette! Born in Montreal, Touchette fell in love with baseball the first time he saw Giants superstar Willie Mays play on TV in the 1960’s. He began covering the Montreal Expos as a reporter for Le Journal de Montréal in 1975 and remained on the Expos beat, with the exception of a six-week period in 1999 in which he served as a columnist, until the club moved to Washington in 2004. During his tenure covering the Expos, he was on hand to document the club’s sole playoff appearance in 1981, Dennis Martinez’s perfect game on July 28, 1991, Gary Carter’s last season in 1992 and Vladimir Guerrero’s entire record-breaking tenure with the club. While on the Expos beat, Touchette also served tenures as the president of the Montreal chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) and vice-president of the national (Canadian) BBWAA. A versatile journalist, Touchette covered more than 20 World Series, The Masters, two Olympics, three Super Bowls and several Stanley Cup Finals.
– On this date 64 years ago, Glen Gorbous (Drumheller, Alta.), then with the double-A Omaha Cardinals, threw a baseball 445 feet and 10 inches on the fly in a pre-game exhibition to set a world record for the longest throw. The record is still recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records. Gorbous played parts of three big league seasons with the Reds and Philadelphia Phillies between 1955 and 1957. He passed away in Calgary in 1990. For an excellent article about Gorbous, read this piece written by Joe McFarland of Alberta Dugout Stories.
-Thirty-eight years ago today, Joe Carter recorded his first major league hit. Batting eighth and playing left field for the Chicago Cubs, Carter delivered an RBI single to right field off legendary Phillies lefty Steve Carlton in the second inning of a Phillies’ 2-1 win at Veterans Stadium. Also of note is that Fergie Jenkins (Chatham, Ont.) pitched for the Cubs that day and hit behind Carter in the batting order. Jenkins limited the Phils to just one run in 5 1/3 innings before before replaced by left-hander Craig Lefferts in the sixth inning.
-On this date in 1989, outfielder Mookie Wilson made his debut with the Toronto Blue Jays after being acquired from the New York Mets for left-hander Jeff Musselman one day earlier. Wilson would serve as a catalyst near the top of the Blue Jays’ order for the rest of the season – batting .298 with 12 stolen bases in 54 games to help the club to their second American League East title. Wilson became a fan favourite in Toronto over the next two seasons, inspiring “Moooooo-kie!” chants from the Skydome faithful.
-If you live in the London, Ont., area, you should purchase a Southwestern Ontario Baseball Heritage Pass. For just $15, you can visit three baseball attractions in the area: the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in St. Marys, Ont., historic Labatt Park (the world’s oldest continuously used baseball grounds) in London, Ont., and the Beachville Museum in Beachville, Ont., which was home to one of the first documented baseball games in North America. For more information and to purchase your pass, click on this link.
– My trivia question for this week: Who holds the Toronto Blue Jays record for most stolen bases in a season? Please provide your answer in the “Comments” section below.
–The answer to last week’s trivia question (Name the two former Montreal Expos managers who have been inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Note: One was inducted for their managerial career, while the other was inducted for their playing career. ) was Dick Williams and Frank Robinson.