September 17, 2023
By Kevin Glew
Cooperstowners in Canada
*Please note that a prize will be awarded to this week’s trivia question winner.*
Some Canadian baseball news and notes from the past week:
-Junior National Team and ABC alum Edouard Julien (Quebec City, Que.) belted his 13th home run of the season for the Minnesota Twins on Thursday. It was a solo shot in the fourth inning off Chicago White Sox right-hander Jose Urena in the Twins’ 10-2 win. With that homer, Julien broke Langley, B.C. native Brett Lawrie’s record for most home runs by a Canadian second baseman in a big league season, according to the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame. Lawrie socked 12 homers for the White Sox in 2016.
-Cleveland Guardians first baseman Josh Naylor (Mississauga, Ont.) had four hits and three RBIs in the Guardians’ 12-3 win over the Texas Rangers on Friday. Despite missing more than a month with an oblique strain, Naylor has 91 RBIs on the season. The Ontario Blue Jays and Junior National Team grad will need nine more RBIs in the Guardians’ remaining 13 games to reach 100 RBIs in a season for the first time in his major league career.
-Naylor’s younger brother, Bo, also continues to swing a hot bat for the Guardians. The 23-year-old catcher has hits in six of his last seven games and has batted .333 with four home runs and 10 RBIs in his past 20 games. He didn’t homer this week, so he remains two behind Russell Martin (Montreal, Que.) for the record for most home runs by a Canadian catcher in their rookie big league campaign. Martin had 10 home runs for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2006.
-Right-hander Cal Quantrill (Port Hope, Ont.) delivered his third outstanding start in a row since being activated by the Guardians on September 1. On Tuesday, he permitted just one run on five hits and struck out two batters in six innings to earn a win against the San Francisco Giants. The Ontario Terriers and Junior National Team alum has allowed just three runs in 18 innings since returning to the Guardians at the start of the month. The 6-foot-3 right-hander was placed on the 15-day injured list by the Guardians for the second time this season on July 6. He had just returned from nearly a month on the injured list with right shoulder inflammation. With his strong start on Tuesday, the 28-year-old Canuck is now 3-6 with a 5.40 ERA in 16 major league starts this season.
-Seattle Mariners right-hander Matt Brash (Kingston, Ont.) struck out his 100th batter of the season in his eighth inning appearance against the Los Angeles Angels on Wednesday. In fact, Brash fanned the side in that outing to earn a hold in the Mariners’ 3-2 win. His 100th strikeout made him just the third Canadian to pitch entirely in relief during a major league season to record 100 strikeouts. The other two are John Hiller (Toronto, Ont.) with the Detroit Tigers in 1973 and 1974 and Eric Gagne (Mascouche, Que.) with the Los Angeles Dodgers from 2002 to 2004. The most strikeouts by a Canadian reliever in a season is 137 by Gagne in 2003.
-Happy 25th Birthday to right-hander Jordan Balazovic (Mississauga, Ont.)! Selected in the fifth round of the 2016 MLB draft by the Twins, the Ontario Blue Jays and Junior National Team grad pitched in parts of seven seasons in the Twins’ system before earning his first big league call-up this season. In 18 big league relief appearances in 2023, he has posted a 4.44 ERA and has struck out 17 in 24 1/3 innings. In his seven minor league seasons, he owns a 24-24 record with a 4.28 ERA in 113 games (82 starts).
-On this date 26 years ago, Colorado Rockies slugger Larry Walker (Maple Ridge, B.C.) belted his 200th major league home run to become the first Canadian to reach that mark. It was a solo shot off San Diego Padres right-hander Andy Ashby in the sixth inning at Qualcomm Stadium. Four Canadians – Joey Votto (Etobicoke, Ont.), Matt Stairs (Fredericton, N.B.), Justin Morneau (New Westminster, B.C.) and Jason Bay (Trail, B.C.) – have since joined the MLB 200-home run club.
-Left-hander Rob Zastryzny (Edmonton, Alta.) has elected free agency after being designated for assignment by the Pittsburgh Pirates earlier in the month. The 31-year-old southpaw posted a 4.79 ERA in a career-high 21 big league appearances for the Pirates this season. Zastryzny recorded a win in relief on Opening Day and on August 24, he made his first major league start since September 29, 2016. But the veteran lefty also had two tenures on the club’s injured list. The first due to left ulnar neuritis and his latest due to forearm inflammation. After he was activated from the 15-day injured list on July 7, he was designated for assignment for the first time this season. He went unclaimed by another club and reported to the Pirates’ triple-A affiliate in Indianapolis. The 6-foot-3 Zastryzny was a second-round pick of the Chicago Cubs in 2013. He recorded a 4.41 ERA in 18 relief appearances with the Cubs from 2016 to 2018 and earned a World Series ring in 2016. From 2019 to 2022, he pitched in the Los Angeles Dodgers, Baltimore Orioles, Miami Marlins, New York Mets and Angels organizations. In December, he signed a minor league deal with the Pirates.
-There was good news and bad news for Boston Red Sox right-hander Nick Pivetta (Victoria, B.C.) in his start against the New York Yankees on Tuesday. The good news was that he struck out 10 batters in just 5 1/3 innings, which marked his third double-digit strikeout performance of the season. The bad news was he allowed three runs and was the losing pitcher in the Yankees’ 3-2 win. The Junior National Team alum will start against the Toronto Blue Jays today at Rogers Centre. He has made six previous appearances (five starts) against the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre and owns a 3.90 ERA and has fanned 28 in 32 1/3 innings.
-Thirteen years ago today, Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista belted his 48th home run of the 2010 season to break George Bell’s single-season franchise mark (See video above). Bautista’s record-breaking homer came off Red Sox right-hander Michael Bowden in the sixth inning of a Blue Jays’ 11-9 win at Fenway Park. Bautista finished the season with 54 home runs, which remains a franchise record.
-This week’s trivia question: Who holds the Montreal Expos record (I’m not counting Washington Nationals players) for most home runs in a single season? Please provide your answer in the “Comments” section below. The first one to answer correctly will win a copy of David Maraniss’s excellent 2006 biography of Roberto Clemente.
-The answer to last week’s trivia question (What lefty holds the record for most strikeouts in a major league game by a Canadian? ) was James Paxton (Ladner, B.C.) who struck out 16 Oakland A’s batters for the Seattle Mariners on May 2, 2018.
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