September 12, 2023
By Kevin Glew
Cooperstowners in Canada
Some Canadian baseball news and notes from the past few days:
-The Boston Red Sox have placed left-hander James Paxton (Ladner, B.C.) on the 15-day injured list with right knee inflammation. This will end the Canuck southpaw’s season. Until his recent struggles, Paxton had looked like a strong American League Comeback Player of the Year candidate. The 34-year-old Junior National Team grad will finish the season with a 7-5 record and a 4.50 ERA, with 101 strikeouts in 96 innings, in 19 starts. His 19 starts with the Red Sox were his first in the regular season since April 6, 2021 with the Seattle Mariners. Since that time, Paxton endured his second Tommy John surgery, a grade 2 lat tear and a hamstring injury. Paxton, who will be a free agent after the season, will be replaced in the Red Sox rotation by fellow Canuck and Junior National Team alum Nick Pivetta (Victoria, B.C.). The hard-throwing right-hander has been in and out of the Red Sox rotation this season. In 34 appearances (12 starts), Pivetta is 9-8 with a 4.54 ERA. He has 150 strikeouts in 117 innings. He will start for the Red Sox today against the New York Yankees.
-Speaking of Paxton, on July 29, when he started and tossed five innings against the San Francisco Giants, he became just the 11th Canadian pitcher to make 150 major league starts. He recently donated his spikes (see above) from that start to the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in St. Marys, Ont.
-Cincinnati Reds slugger Joey Votto (Etobicoke, Ont.) homered in the eighth inning in the Reds’ 7-1 win over the St. Louis Cardinals on his 40th birthday on Sunday. With that, Votto became just the second Canadian to belt a major league home run after the age of 40. Matt Stairs (Fredericton, N.B.) is the only other Canadian to do it. Stairs had 24 home runs after the age of 40.
-Votto’s home run gave him 356 for his major league career, which lifted him past Greg Vaughn into 91st on the all-time home run list. The next two players ahead of him are Carlos Lee and Yogi Berra, each of whom belted 358 big league homers.
-And thank you to the great Sarah Langs, of the MLB.com, for sharing this graphic of the eight other major league players who homered on their 40th birthday (since 1900):
-Toronto Blue Jays closer Jordan Romano (Markham, Ont.) loaded the bases in the ninth inning against the Kansas City Royals on Sunday, but he still escaped without allowing a run and recorded his 34th save of the season in the Blue Jays’ 5-2 victory. As Sportsnet Stats pointed out, Romano now has 95 saves since 2020 – that’s the third-most in the American League in that span.
-Forty-nine years ago today, John Hiller (Toronto, Ont.) picked up his 17th win of the season in relief for the Detroit Tigers in their 9-7 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers at Tiger Stadium. This established an American League record for most wins in a season by a relief pitcher. Bill Campbell tied this record with the Minnesota Twins in 1976. The major league record is 18 by Pittsburgh Pirates reliever Roy Face in 1959. Hiller finished the 1974 campaign with a 17-14 record and a 2.64 ERA in 59 relief appearances. He pitched a career-high 150 innings and had 13 saves.
-Eighty-one years ago today, Frank Colman (London, Ont.) made his MLB debut with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Batting third and playing right field, he went 1-for-4 with a sacrifice bunt. The Pirates and Boston Braves played to a 2-2 tie at Braves Field. The game, which was the second in a doubleheader, was called after 11 innings because the Pirates needed to catch a train to New York for their next series against the Giants. Colman’s first big league hit was a ninth inning single.
-Forty-seven years ago today, Ernie Whitt made his MLB debut with the Boston Red Sox. He pinch-hit for Carlton Fisk in the seventh inning and grounded out to second base in the Red Sox 11-3 win over Cleveland. He also caught Luis Tiant for the final two innings of the contest.