September 18, 2022
By Kevin Glew
Cooperstowners in Canada
My weekly Canadian baseball news and notes:
-Jared Young (Prince George, B.C.) made his major league debut with the Chicago Cubs on Friday. Batting sixth and playing first base, he recorded his first big league hit (See video below) when he doubled off Colorado Rockies reliever Justin Lawrence in the eighth inning of the Cubs’ 2-1 win at Wrigley Field. Young said after the game that he had eight people there from Prince George, including his brother, cheering him on. Selected in the 15th round of the 2017 MLB draft by the Cubs, the Okanagan Athletics alum was hitting .228 with 16 home runs and 57 RBIs in 108 games for triple-A Iowa this season, his fifth in the Cubs’ system. Young became the 13th player born in Canada to play in the big leagues this season.
-The Cleveland Guardians are four-and-a-half games up on the Chicago White Sox atop the American League Central division. If they advance to the postseason, their opponent must be hoping they won’t face Cal Quantrill (Port Hope, Ont.) at Progressive Field, the Guardians’ home park. Quantrill is a combined 13-0 at Progressive Field over the past two seasons. He is 7-0 with a 3.38 ERA in 16 starts at home this season and was 6-0 record with a 2.35 ERA in 22 appearances (14 starts) last season. The Ontario Terriers and Junior National Team alum is leading the Guardians with 12 wins this season and has pitched a career-high 164 innings.
– On Friday, right-hander Mike Soroka (Calgary, Alta.) permitted six runs on six hits – including three home runs – in five innings to the triple-A Durham Bulls in his fifth rehab start for the Gwinnett Braves. The five innings were the most he has pitched in his rehab starts, but the six runs were also the most he has allowed. In all, in his five triple-A rehab starts, he owns a 6.43 ERA. His recent 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’m happy to say that Matt Brash (Kingston, Ont.) survived the Cooperstowners in Canada jinx and has kept his scoreless outings streak intact despite the fact that I mentioned it in last Sunday’s column. Over the past week, the 24-year-old right-hander has extended the streak to 13 consecutive scoreless relief outings for the Seattle Mariners. During that stretch, he has struck out 17 in 11 2/3 innings and has lowered his ERA from 5.67 to 4.20.
-It was 46 years ago today that Bill Atkinson (Chatham, Ont.) made his major league MLB debut with the Montreal Expos. It came just two days after fellow Canuck right-hander Larry Landreth (Stratford, Ont.) pitched his first game. In his debut, Atkinson relieved Expos starter Don Stanhouse in the fourth inning and proceeded to toss three scoreless innings against the St. Louis Cardinals at Jarry Park in the Expos’ 4-1 loss. Among the batters Atkinson faced were Keith Hernandez and Hall of Famers Ted Simmons and Lou Brock.
-Thirty-eight years ago today, Tim Raines stole four bases for the Expos in their 7-4 win over the Cardinals at Busch Stadium to give him 70 on the season. With that, he became the first player in major league history to have four consecutive 70-stolen base seasons (Ty Cobb, Lou Brock or Rickey Henderson never did it). Cardinals speedster Vince Coleman later equaled the feat when he did it from 1985 to 1988. Raines would actually steal 70 bases in 1985 and 1986 as well to extend his streak to a record six seasons.
-When Toronto Blue Jays slugger Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (Montreal, Que.) hit a two-run home run in the first inning on Wednesday, he became the youngest Canadian (at 23 years, 182 days) to reach 100 big league home runs. According to Neil Munro, of the Canadian Baseball Network, however, three Canadians reached 100 home runs in fewer than Guerrero Jr’s 1,851 at bats. Matt Stairs (Fredericton, N.B.) did it in 1,655 at bats. Jason Bay (Trail, B.C.) hit his 100th in his 1,715th at bat, while Justin Morneau reached the milestone in his 1,778th at bat. Surprisingly, it took Larry Walker (Maple Ridge, B.C.) until his 2,392nd at bat.
-Right-hander Zach Pop (Brampton, Ont.) has been excellent out of the bullpen for the Blue Jays since he was acquired from the Miami Marlins along with fellow reliever Anthony Bass for infielder Jordan Groshans on August 2. In 12 appearances, he has posted a 3.09 ERA in 11 2/3 innings. He figures to be an important pitcher down the stretch for the Blue Jays who are currently operating without a No. 5 starter.
-Seventy-six years ago today, Ralph McCabe (Napanee, Ont.) pitched in his only major league game with Cleveland. He started against the Washington Senators at League Park and allowed five earned runs on five hits in four innings before being relieved by fellow Canuck Joe Krakauskas (Montreal, Que.) in the fifth inning. Cleveland lost the game 8-1. McCabe returned to the minors in 1947 to toe the rubber for Cleveland’s double-A affiliate in Oklahoma City. He finished his professional career with tenures with the Sherbrooke Athletics of the independent Provincial League in 1948 and with the Longview Texans of the class-C East Texas League in 1949.
-A fun fact I learned this week: Detroit Tigers legends Lou Whitaker and Alan Trammell both recorded their first major league hits off Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame inductee and then Boston Red Sox right-hander Reggie Cleveland (Swift Current, Sask.) in their first game on September 9, 1977. Batting second, Whitaker singled off Cleveland in the first inning, while Trammell, who was hitting ninth, singled in the third. It was a rough start for Cleveland. He allowed three runs on five hits in 2 1/3 innings. Nevertheless, the Red Sox ended up defeating the Tigers 8-6 at Fenway Park.
-St. Louis Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols has 698 major league home runs. He plans to retire at the end of the season. I’m hoping he reaches 700. But I saw this on Saturday under toughest pitchers for Pujols to face: Pujols was 0-for-14 with five strikeouts against John Axford (Port Dover, Ont.).
-This week’s trivia question: Who was the first Canadian to hit 100 major league home runs? Please provide your answer in the Comments section below.
– The answer to last week’s trivia question (What pitcher recorded the most saves in Montreal Expos’ history?) was Jeff Reardon with 152.