Lawrie HR only 2nd in Canada off a Canuck by Canuck

by on May 3, 2013

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* Brett Lawrie went deep off Ryan Dempster, the second time a Canadian has homered off a Canadian-born pitcher; in Canada. The other Matt Stairs homered against  Paul Spoljaric on Aug. 13, 1999.

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By David Matchett 

Toronto’s home game against started well for the Jays when Brett Lawrie lined the third pitch thrown by Ryan Dempster over the left-centre field fence Friday night.

That turned out to be Toronto’s only run in a 3-1 loss but it had some historical significance in that it was a home run hit by a Canadian, off a Canadian during a game played in Canada.

Lawrie’s home run was the 130th hit in Canada by a Canadian-born player. Sixty-two of them occurred in Montreal and this was the 68th in Toronto. The first was slammed by Dave McKay on May 4, 1977 and Larry Walker has the most, with 58 of his career total of 383 coming in Canada.

Matt Stairs went deep 22 times in the Great White North and Lawrie’s home run was his 13th in Toronto, putting him in third place on the all-time list. Other notable Canadians to have homered in Canada include Joey Votto, Jason Bay, Justin Morneau, Russell Marin and Corey Koskie.

Only one of the previous 129 home runs hit in Canada by Canadian-born players was hit against a Canadian-born pitcher; Matt Stairs banged one off Paul Spoljaric on August 13, 1999.

The Oakland As and the Blue Jays were locked in a 3-3 tie after four innings before Roy Halladay loaded the bases with two out in the fifth. Spoljaric came into the game and on a 2-2 count to the first batter he faced Stairs hit a grand slam to right field.  Stairs hit another homer in the seventh inning off Graeme Lloyd then he batted against Paul Quantrill in the ninth. That gave him a chance to hit a home run off a second Canadian pitcher and the opportunity to join Larry Walker as the only Canadian with a three homer game in Canada, but Quantrill struck him out.

A US-born Canadian also matched this. Mark Teahen was born in California but his father is Canadian, he holds dual citizenship and he has represented Canada at the World Baseball Classic. On June 6, 2009 Scott Richmond was the starting pitcher for the Jays and through four innings he had faced the minimum 12 batters. That fell apart in the fifth inning however when Teahen hit a two-run shot to left-centre field to give the Royals a lead they would never relinquish. Teahen hit two other home runs in Toronto as a visiting player and another in Toronto as a Blue Jay. His four home runs in Canada are in addition to the 130 hit in Canada by Canadian-born players.

Lawrie added his name to this short list when he faced Dempster on May 2, 2013. With the roof open for the first time of the year and the wind blowing in several players hit long fly ball outs that would have been home runs earlier in the season but Lawrie conquered the elements by lining the ball under the breeze. That was the extent of the Jays’ offence and they lost 3-1. The win ran Dempster’s record in Canada to 6-0 including the five wins he had in eight starts in Montreal against the Expos.

With Lawrie getting regular playing time in Toronto’s lineup there will be other chances to have more Triple-Canadian home runs in 2013.

The next opportunity will be when Jeff Francis comes to Toronto with the Colorado Rockies from June 17-19 followed by Scott Diamond and the Twins from July 5-7. Next up will be Eric Bedard of the Houston Astros from July 25-28 then Dempster and his Red Sox teammates will be back in Toronto from August 13-15.

There may be even more chances if there are trades or call-ups that add more Canadian pitchers to the rosters of the teams scheduled to visit Toronto, or if the Jays add one to give visiting Canadian batters a chance.

David Matchett
The Expos played their first game a couple of weeks after David’s sixth birthday and some of his fondest childhood memories are of sitting in the bleachers at Parc Jarry. He inherited his passion for baseball from his Ted Williams-worshiping father and built on this enthusiasm listening to Dave Van Horne and Duke Snider call the games throughout his adolescence. His move from his native Lachine, Quebec to Toronto was perfectly timed to coincide with the Blue Jays’ two World Series Championships and he cheers for his new favourite team now that the ex-Expos are dead to him (curse you Jeffrey Loria!!!)

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