July 3, 2022
By Kevin Glew
Cooperstowners in Canada
-On Canada Day at Rogers Centre, the Toronto Blue Jays celebrated the career of Canadian catcher Russell Martin in a pre-game ceremony. Born in East York, Ont., but raised in Montreal, Martin belted 66 homers in 447 games in four seasons with the Blue Jays from 2015 to 2018. His intensity and leadership helped the Blue Jays end a more than two-decade long postseason drought with playoff berths in 2015 and 2016. An emotional Martin, who announced his retirement on May 28, was on the field with his family for the pre-game ceremony which included a tribute video and him throwing out the ceremonial first pitch to Gabriel Moreno, who now wears Martin’s No. 55. It was also announced that Baseball Canada will be renaming their annual Junior National Team MVP Award after Martin.
-It’s hard to imagine any major leaguer being more pumped up about a walk-off home run than Josh Naylor (Mississauga, Ont.) was on Wednesday. With his Cleveland Guardians trailing the Minnesota Twins 6-5 in the bottom of the 10th inning at Progressive Field, the Ontario Blue Jays and Junior National Team alum clubbed an opposite field, two-run home run off Twins reliever Jharel Cotton to win the game. You can watch Naylor’s celebration, complete with a headbutt of a helmeted Terry Francona, here or by clicking on the video below. It was Naylor’s ninth home run of the season.
-Also starring for the Guardians in that game was Canuck right-hander Cal Quantrill (Port Hope, Ont.). He started and pitched a season-high eight innings, holding the Twins to three runs on eight hits. The Ontario Terriers and Junior National Team grad has become one of the American League’s most durable starting pitchers. He has now tossed at least six innings in 10 of his last 12 starts and in the other two, he pitched five innings. He has logged 84 2/3 innings in his 14 starts and owns a solid 3.72 ERA.
-Speaking of durable Canadian starters, Nick Pivetta (Victoria, B.C.) had another strong outing for the Boston Red Sox on Wednesday when he allowed just two runs on five hits in six innings to the Toronto Blue Jays. The Red Sox eventually won 6-5 in 10 innings. The Victoria Eagles and Junior National Team alum has been one of the best pitchers in the American League since the beginning of May. He is currently tied for the American League lead among pitchers in starts (16), is tied for third in wins (8) and is fifth in innings pitched (94 2/3). He is just three innings behind league leader Robbie Ray.
-On June 23, the Miami Marlins recalled right-hander Zach Pop (Brampton, Ont.) for the third time this season. In the two previous promotions, he only made one appearance and was sent back to triple-A Jacksonville. However, with reliever Louis Head on the 15-day injured list, Pop is now getting an extended look and has responded with four scoreless outings. The 25-year-old Ontario Blue Jays and Junior National Team grad spent the entire 2021 season with the Marlins, posting a 4.12 ERA in 50 appearances.
-Veteran slugger Joey Votto (Etobicoke, Ont.) had three multi-hit games for the Cincinnati Reds this past week. He belted his sixth home run of the season as part of his three-hit performance in the Reds’ 15-7 loss to the Chicago Cubs on Thursday. Overall, Votto had a productive month of June at the plate, posting a .361 on-base percentage with four home runs, nine doubles and 15 RBIs in 26 games. He also raised his batting average from .173 to .220.
– Twenty-nine years ago today, Vin Scully made what was likely the most heartbreaking on-air announcement of his career when he was forced to share during the TV broadcast of a Los Angeles Dodgers game against the Montreal Expos at Olympic Stadium that his colleague Don Drysdale had died suddenly in his Montreal hotel room. Drysdale, who was only 56 at the time, suffered a heart attack. A Hall of Fame pitcher with the Dodgers, Drysdale has plenty of links to the city he passed away in. He went 11-11 with a 3.33 ERA in 28 games with the Dodgers’ triple-A Montreal Royals in 1955 before graduating to the big leagues. Drysdale also served as a pitching instructor for the Expos in 1969 and was part of the Expos’ TV broadcast team for the 1970 and 1971 seasons. You can listen to Scully share the news of Drysdale’s passing here or by clicking on the YouTube link below.
– On Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame induction day in St. Marys, Ont., this year, Joel Martin, one of my very kind readers and supporters, gave me a book called “Lefty and Tim: How Steve Carlton and Tim McCarver Became Baseball’s Best Battery” by William C. Kashatus. I just finished it. It was an outstanding read. The end of the book includes an Appendix with statistics about major league batteries. And here are a couple of Expos/Blue Jays facts that I didn’t know: Expos legends Steve Rogers and Gary Carter formed a battery in 270 major league games. That is the seventh-most all-time. In fact, that’s 42 games more than Carlton and McCarver worked together. Also on that list is the battery of Dave Stieb and Ernie Whitt, who teamed up together in 202 major league games, the 34th most in MLB history.
-Speaking of Whitt, he played his final major league game 31 years ago today as a member of the Baltimore Orioles. In his final game, he pinch-hit for O’s second baseman Billy Ripken with two outs in the bottom of the ninth at Memorial Stadium and flew out to deep left centre field in the O’s 8-2 loss to the Detroit Tigers.
-This week’s trivia question: Whitt played 1,218 games for the Blue Jays, that’s the most by any catcher in franchise history. What catcher is second on that list? Please provide your answer in the “Comments” section below.
-The answer to last week’s trivia question (Forty-five years ago today (June 26), this pitcher threw the first complete game shutout in Toronto Blue Jays’ history. Who am I referring to? Hint: He later won a Cy Young Award.) was Pete Vuckovich who tossed a six-hit shutout for the Blue Jays against the Orioles on June 26, 1977. He struck out 12 batters in the game.