September 25, 2022
By Kevin Glew
Cooperstowners in Canada
My weekly Canadian baseball news and notes:
– The Atlanta Braves announced on Thursday that right-hander Mike Soroka (Calgary, Alta.) has inflammation in his throwing elbow and they have shut him down for rest of the season. According to David O’Brien, of The Athletic, an MRI was done and there was no structural damage. The Braves believe Soroka will be ready for spring training. This is another setback for the 25-year-old right-hander who had posted a combined 5.40 ERA in six rehab starts between class-A and triple-A. 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.
-Congratulations to St. Louis Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols who belted his 700th major league home run in the fourth inning on Friday off Los Angeles Dodgers right-hander Phil Bickford. So who was the first person to congratulate Pujols after his milestone homer? It was Canadian Stubby Clapp (Windsor, Ont.) who is the Cards’ first base coach. With the homer, Pujols becomes just the fourth player in major league history to reach 700 home runs, joining Barry Bonds (762), Hank Aaron (755) and Babe Ruth (714).
-On September 17, Cardinals outfielder Tyler O’Neill (Maple Ridge, B.C.) was placed on the 10-day injured list with a hamstring strain. According to John Denton of MLB.com, it has been diagnosed as a Grade 1 strain, so O’Neill shouldn’t be out for an extended period. It’s been a rough season for the Langley Blaze and Junior National Team alum. He has also missed time due to previous hamstring issues, neck stiffness, a wrist injury and shoulder soreness. In all, in 96 games in 2022, he is batting .228 with 14 home runs and 58 RBIs.
-Toronto Blue Jays slugger Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (Montreal, Que.) hammered his 30th home run of the season in the eighth inning of his club’s 4-3 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies on Wednesday. Scott Crawford, of the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame, pointed out that with that home run Guerrero Jr. became the fifth player born in Canada to have hit 30 or more home runs in a season at least twice. The others are Larry Walker (4), Jason Bay (4), Joey Votto (3) and Justin Morneau (3).
-On Monday, Miami Marlins infielder Charles Leblanc (Laval, Que.) belted a two-run home run off Chicago Cubs reliever Rowan Wick (North Vancouver, B.C.) in the eighth inning of the Marlins’ 10-3 win. According to Neil Munro, of the Canadian Baseball Network, that marked the 45th time in major league history that a Canadian has homered off another Canadian. It was the first time that a Canuck has taken a fellow Canuck deep since Guerrero Jr. did so against Boston Red Sox right-hander Nick Pivetta (Victoria, B.C.) on June 12, 2021. It was also the first time this has happened in the National League since Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto (Etobicoke, Ont.) homered off Colorado Rockies reliever John Axford (Port Dover, Ont.) on July 24, 2015.
-Right-hander Zach Pop (Brampton, Ont.) pitched two scoreless innings in relief in the Blue Jays’ wild 18-11 win over the Phillies on Tuesday to earn the win. It was also the Ontario Blue Jays and Junior National Team alum’s 26th birthday. By my unscientific research (meaning that I manually searched the stats of every Canadian that has pitched for the Blue Jays), I believe I can safely say Pop is the first Canadian pitcher to earn a win for the Blue Jays on their birthday.
-Last Sunday, Red Sox right-hander Nick Pivetta recorded his 10th win of the season when he started and allowed three runs on seven hits in five innings to the Kansas City Royals in the Red Sox 13-3 victory. As Scott Crawford, of the Canadian Baseball of Fame, pointed out that represents a career-high in wins for Pivetta. The durable Victoria Eagles and Junior National Team alum has also pitched a career-high 170 2/3 innings this season and his 31 starts are tied for the most in the American League.
-It was 19 years ago today that Carlos Delgado belted four home runs in a game for the Blue Jays against the Tampa Bay Rays at SkyDome. With that power display, he became just the 15th player in major league history to club four home runs in a single contest. Delgado would hit a three-run shot off Rays starter Jorge Sosa in the first (which was also the 300th home run of his career) and then follow with a solo homer off Sosa in the third. He then socked solo shots off relievers Joe Kennedy and Lance Carter in the sixth and eighth innings respectively. It remains the single-most remarkable individual performance by a Blue Jays player. You can watch it here.
-Twenty-one years ago today, Tim Raines, in his second tenure with the Montreal Expos, stole second base off New York Mets pitcher Kevin Appier in the sixth inning to become just the third player in major league history to register a stolen base in four different decades (70s, 80s, 90s and 2000s). The other two players to accomplish this are Ted Williams and Rickey Henderson. It was also the 808th and last stolen base of Raines’ career. You can watch Raines steal the base here.
-On this date, 45 years ago, Reggie Cleveland (Swift Current, Sask.) threw an 18-hit complete game for the Boston Red Sox to earn the win in their 12-5 victory over the Detroit Tigers. Yes, you read that correctly — an 18-hit complete game! Unfortunately, I’ve never been able to find out how many pitches Cleveland threw that day, but I’ve done enough research to confidently say that no pitcher has allowed more hits in a complete game since. Cleveland also picked up his 11th win of the season and kept the Red Sox within three games of the American League East-leading New York Yankees in the pennant race. “The way I was throwing, it didn’t make any difference,” Cleveland told UPI after the game of the 18 hits allowed. “I could have stayed in for 27 innings and given up 84 hits as long as we kept ahead of them.”
-This week’s trivia question: Fergie Jenkins (Chatham, Ont.) threw 267 complete games during his major league career. That is by far the most by a Canadian. But three other Canadian pitchers threw over 80 complete games in their major league careers. Name one of them. Please provide your answer in the Comments section below.
– The answer to last week’s trivia question (Who was the first Canadian to hit 100 major league home runs?) was George Selkirk (Huntsville, Ont.) who hit his 100th career home run with the New York Yankees on September 21, 1940.