August 20, 2023
By Kevin Glew
Cooperstowners in Canada
Some Canadian baseball news and notes from the past week:
-Congratulations to Seattle Mariners reliever Matt Brash (Kingston, Ont.) who made his 100th major league pitching appearance on Thursday when he picked up the save in the M’s 6-4 win over the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium. With that, Brash became the 42nd Canadian pitcher to make at least 100 appearances in the big leagues, according to the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame. The Mariners traded closer Paul Sewald to the Arizona Diamondbacks on July 31 and Brash and Andres Munoz are now sharing closer duties. “It’s definitely new for me,” Brash told the Seattle Times of the closer role, “but I love being out there. Being the competitor I am, just whatever I can do to help this team win, I’m willing to do it.” The 25-year-old righty has recorded saves in his last two appearances and now has four on the season. He leads American League pitchers with 61 appearances and is 8-3 with a 3.40 ERA. He has 86 strikeouts in 53 innings.
-Minnesota Twins second baseman Edouard Julien (Quebec City, Que.) had the first four-hit major league game of his career on Wednesday. The ABC and Junior National Team alum had four singles and knocked in two runs in the Twins’ 8-7 loss to the Detroit Tigers at Target Field. The 24-year-old infielder is now batting .289 with a .386 on-base percentage (OBP) in 73 games for the Twins this season. He has 10 home runs, 11 doubles and 35 walks. His performance has made him a strong contender for the American League Rookie of the Year.
-St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Tyler O’Neill (Maple Ridge, B.C.) belted his seventh home run of the season on Thursday. It was his fifth home run in 21 games since returning from a lower back strain that sidelined him for over two months from May 5 to July 19. Since his return, O’Neill owns a .527 slugging percentage and has boosted his batting average from .228 to .244.
-After being hit hard in his first rehab start with the triple-A Columbus Clippers on August 9, Cleveland Guardians right-hander Cal Quantrill (Port Hope, Ont.) made his second rehab start for the double-A Akron RubberDucks on Tuesday and fared much better. He allowed just one run in 3 2/3 innings in the Ducks’ 4-2 win over the Erie Seawolves. Quantrill was placed on the 15-day injured list by the Guardians for the second time this season on July 6. The 28-year-old Ontario Terriers and Junior National Team grad had just returned from 28 days on the injured list with right shoulder inflammation. After setting career-highs with 15 wins and 186 2/3 innings pitched for the Guardians in 2022, Quantrill has struggled to a 2-6 record with a 6.45 ERA in 13 starts, spanning 67 innings, this season.
-On this date 52 years ago, Chicago Cubs right-hander Fergie Jenkins (Chatham, Ont.) recorded his 20th win of the 1971 season when he tossed a complete game in the Cubs’ 3-2 victory over the Houston Astros at Wrigley Field. It was Jenkins’ fifth in his string of six consecutive 20-win seasons. No major league pitcher has had six consecutive 20-win seasons since.
-Speaking of Jenkins, he recently launched a new website. You can check it out here.
-As you know, Cincinnati Reds slugger Joey Votto (Etobicoke, Ont.) is playing against his hometown Toronto Blue Jays this weekend. So far, he has been quiet in this series, going 0-for-7 with a walk. In his career against the Blue Jays, he is 17-for-74 (.230 batting average) with four home runs and 10 RBIs in 20 games. All four of those homers were hit at the Rogers Centre.
-Shortstop Bo Bichette returned to the Blue Jays’ lineup on Saturday and had an RBI single in five at bats. He begins today’s game with a .319 batting average, which ranks him just behind Tampa Bay Rays first baseman Yandy Diaz (.325) for the American League lead. The only Blue Jay to win an AL batting title has been John Olerud when he batted .363 in 1993. On Saturday, Bichette also played his 500th major league game with the Blue Jays. He has 623 hits, which is the most by any player in their first 500 games with the club.
-Infielder Abraham Toro (Longueuil, Que.) was recalled by the Milwaukee Brewers on August 11, but he has only played in one big league game since being promoted. On Wednesday, he walked when he pinch-hit for Brewers centre fielder Joey Wiemer in the top of the eighth inning in the Brewers’ 7-1 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. In limited action with the Brewers this season, Toro is 8-for-18 (.444 batting average) with two home runs and nine RBIs in nine games. He has also batted .288 and owns a .367 OBP with six home runs and 44 RBIs in 71 games with the triple-A Nashville Sounds.
-Not enough has been written about former Minnesota Twins third baseman Corey Koskie’s 2001 season. That year, the Anola, Man., native batted .276 and had 26 home runs, 27 stolen bases, 103 RBIs and 100 runs. This made him the first – and still only – American League third baseman to have at least 25 home runs, 25 stolen bases, 100 RBIs and 100 runs in the same season.
-Something I learned this week: On June 29, 1977, in his first at bat as a Blue Jay, Ernie Whitt was called in to pinch-hit for second baseman Hector Torres with two outs in the bottom of the ninth at Exhibition Stadium to face none other than California Angels ace Nolan Ryan. Whitt understandably struck out. But I can’t think of a more difficult first at bat assignment. For the record, it was Ryan’s 12th strikeout of the game that the Angels won 3-2.
-This week’s trivia question: Who was the first Toronto Blue Jays hitter, with a minimum of 500 plate appearances, to bat higher than .300 in a major league season? Please provide your answer in the “Comments” section below.
-The answer to last week’s trivia question (Larry Walker has the most major league hits by a Canadian and Joey Votto is second. Both are left-handed hitters. Who has the most big league hits by a right-handed hitting Canadian?) was Russell Martin (Montreal, Que.) with 1,416.
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