September 11, 2022
By Kevin Glew
Cooperstowners in Canada
My weekly Canadian baseball news and notes:
-Please take a moment to remember Marty Boryczewski. He was a catcher with the Pioneer League’s Lethbridge Mounties in the Pittsburgh Pirates’ organization in 1994 before moving on to a career in investment banking with Cantor Fitzgerald in New York City. He was working in the World Trade Center 21 years ago today when it was attacked. He died when he was only 29.
-Toronto Blue Jays closer Jordan Romano (Markham, Ont.) is vying to become the second Canadian to top the American League in saves. Left-hander John Hiller (Toronto, Ont.) was the first when he did so for the Detroit Tigers in 1973. (Note: Eric Gagne (Mascouche, Que.) led the National League in saves during his Cy Young Award-winning 2003 campaign.). With his 32nd save on Friday, Romano trails Cleveland closer Emmanuel Clase by one for the AL lead. Last Sunday, Romano became the first Canadian to notch 30 saves in a season with a Canadian major league team when he closed out the Blue Jays’ 4-3 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates.
-Boston Red Sox right-hander Nick Pivetta (Victoria, B.C.) didn’t miss a start after taking a comebacker travelling 91.4 mph hit by Texas Rangers outfielder Leody Taveras off his calf in the third inning of his start on September 2. The Canadian righty allowed just one run on two hits in five innings to the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday. Pivetta has been a workhorse for the Red Sox this season, making 28 starts, which is tied for the most in the American League. The Victoria Eagles and Junior National Team grad has posted a 9-11 record with a 4.29 ERA and has struck out 148 batters in 155 1/3 innings for the Red Sox this season.
– On Friday, right-hander Mike Soroka (Calgary, Alta.) permitted three runs on three hits in four innings to the Toronto Blue Jays’ triple-A Buffalo Bisons in his fourth rehab start for the Gwinnett Braves. Soroka wasn’t as sharp as his previous outing in which he tossed four scoreless innings. In all, in his four triple-A rehab starts, he owns a 5.06 ERA. His recent rehab starts represent his first game appearances since he tore his right Achilles tendon with the Braves on August 3, 2020. A graduate of the Calgary Redbirds and Junior National Team, Soroka was a first-round pick (28th overall) of the Braves in 2015. In 2019, he went 13-4 with a 2.68 ERA in 29 starts and finished second in the National League Rookie of the Year voting. Unfortunately, his Achilles injury limited him to three starts in the pandemic shortened 2020 campaign. After extensive rehab, Soroka re-tore his Achilles tendon in June 2021 and started the 2022 season on the 60-day injured list.
– I almost hate to include this because the last time I wrote about a Matt Brash (Kingston, Ont.) scoreless innings streak on August 14, it was snapped the same day. But the 24-year-old right-hander has reeled off nine consecutive scoreless outings in relief for the Seattle Mariners. During that stretch, he has struck out nine in eight innings and lowered his ERA from 5.67 to 4.57.
-It was 46 years ago today that Andre Dawson made his major league MLB debut with the Montreal Expos. Batting eighth and starting in right field for the Expos, he went 0-for-2 against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Three Rivers Stadium before being pinch-hit for by Jose Morales. Of course, things would get better for Dawson. After appearing in 23 more games for the Expos in 1976, he hit .282 and belted 19 home runs, earning himself National League Rookie of the Year honours in 1977. In all, in his 11 seasons with the Expos, he was selected to three All-Star games, won three Silver Slugger Awards and captured six Gold Gloves. He also accumulated 225 home runs, 838 RBIs and 2,679 total bases – all numbers that rank second in franchise history. After leaving Montreal, Dawson enjoyed an MVP season with the Chicago Cubs in 1987, belting 49 home runs, while knocking in 137. He would spend five more seasons at Wrigley, earning four more All-Star nods, before splitting his final four seasons between the Boston Red Sox and Florida Marlins. In total, in parts of 21 big league seasons, Dawson recorded 2,774 hits, 438 home runs, 1,591 RBIs and 314 stolen bases. He was inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in 2004 and into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2010.
-Fittingly, it was three years after Dawson’s debut that Tim Raines played in his first MLB game. Raines pinch ran for Gary Carter after the catcher had singled in the bottom of the seventh inning with the Expos leading the Chicago Cubs 7-2. Unfortunately, Raines was quickly erased when Ellis Valentine hit into a double play. That was his first of six pinch-running appearances with the Expos that September. From there, Raines blossomed into one of the best leadoff hitters in major league history, excelling for parts of 13 seasons with the Expos. From 1981 to 1987, the fleet-footed outfielder was selected to seven consecutive All-Star teams, won a National League batting title in 1986 and topped the Senior Circuit in runs twice and in stolen bases four times. In 1,452 games with the Expos, Raines set franchise records in runs (947), stolen bases (635), triples (82), walks (793), and singles (1,163) and also ranks second in Expos’ history in batting average (.301) and hits (1,622). In December 1990, Raines was dealt to the Chicago White Sox, where he toiled for five seasons, before being traded to the New York Yankees, where he earned two World Series rings (1996, 1998). In all, in a 23-year big league career, Raines collected 2,605 hits and 808 stolen bases (fifth all-time). He was elected to the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in 2013 and the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2017.
-Congratulations to Joey Votto (Etobicoke, Ont.) who is the Cincinnati Reds’ nominee for Major League Baseball’s Roberto Clemente Award. The Roberto Clemente Award is handed out annually to the player that best represents the game of baseball through extraordinary character, community involvement, philanthropy and positive contributions, both on and off the field. Each team has a nominee. “When you spend 20 years with the same organization, you are no longer just a player representing a team. You are a part of the city and its community,” reads Votto’s bio on MLB.com’s Roberto Clemente Award nominations page. “What stands out about Votto’s charitable efforts is that he chooses to do most of it behind the scenes, out of respect for the people with which he interacts. It would be impossible to keep track of all the families he has met with on his own time, and that’s the way he wants it.” Fans can vote for the Roberto Clemente Award here. The final winner will be selected by a panel consisting of Commissioner Rob Manfred, representatives from Capital One (the award’s sponsor), MLB-affiliated networks (MLB Network, FOX Sports, ESPN and TBS), MLB.com and Clemente’s children, Enrique, Luis and Roberto Clemente, Jr.
-On Friday, Miami Marlins rookie infielder Charles Leblanc (Laval, Que.) clubbed his third home run of the season. It was a two-run shot in the eighth inning off New York Mets reliever Joely Rodriguez in a Marlins’ 6-3 win. Leblanc has made five starts for the Marlins since September 2. On the season, the 26-year-old Canadian is batting .290 with 27 hits in 29 big league games.
-Eighty-four years ago today, Ralph Buxton (Weyburn, Sask.) made his big league debut with the Philadelphia A’s. He entered the game in the fourth inning and allowed four runs over the next 3 1/3 innings to the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park and was saddled with the loss in a Sox 12-7 victory. Hall of Famers Joe Cronin, Jimmie Foxx and Bobby Doerr were among the batters Buxton faced during his debut. The 5-foot-11 right-hander would appear in four more games for the A’s that season and permit only one additional earned run.
-This week’s trivia question: What pitcher recorded the most saves in Montreal Expos’ history? Please provide your answer in the Comments section below.
– The answer to last week’s trivia question (Cal Quantrill (Port Hope, Ont.) has 11 wins this season for the Cleveland Guardians. Who was the last Canadian pitcher to register a win for Cleveland prior to Quantrill?) was John Axford (Port Dover, Ont.) in 2014.