* C Russell Martin (Montreal, Que.) played in his 39th post-season game Wednesday night in Game 5 of the National League division series for the Pittsburgh Pirates breaking Tip O’Neill’s 125-year-old record for Canadians. .... 2014 Canadian draft list 2013 Canadians in the Minors 2013 Canadians in College Letters of Intent
By Bob Elliott
St. LOUIS _ Russell Martin wasn’t anywhere to be seen when Team Canada suited up for the World Baseball Classic this March in Phoenix.
One place you are certain to find him is on the October stage.
As the Pittsburgh Pirates played the St. Louis Cardinals in the fifth and deciding game of the National League division series Wednesday night, Martin was behind the plate.
It was his 39th post-season game breaking Tip O’Neill’s 125-year-old record of appearances by a Canadian the post season.
The Pirates lost 6-1 against Cardinals ace and 19-game winner Adam Wainwright.
So the Cards win, host the Dodgers in the best-of-seven National League Championship Series, which begins on Friday.
This is Martin’s eighth season in the majors. With the Dodgers he reached October in 2006, 2008 and 2009. Signing a two-year deal with the New York Yankees he went 2-for-2 in 2011-12.
And this year with the Bucs makes him 6-for-8.
Hall of Famer Ernie Banks played 19 seasons for the Chicago Cubs and never had a post-season at-bat.
Martin had played 39 games.
He has started all 39.
He has gone first-pitch to last pitch in 37 games. The two games he didn’t go the distance was when Joe Girardi sent Curtis Granderson to hit for him in the seventh inning of an 8-1 loss as the Detroit Tigers eliminated the Yanks in a four-game sweep of last year’s ALCS and Clint Hurdle pinch ran Josh Harrison for Martin after walking, down 2-1 in the eighth of Game 4 on Monday.
Martin caught a 12 and a 13-inning game as the Yanks bested the Baltimore Orioles in the AL division series last year and a 12-inning game against Detroit last year.
Figuring in losses on the road, where there isn’t any ninth inning for him to squat, Martin has caught 335 of a possible 338 (99.1%) of his team’s possible post-season innings.
O’Neill played left field in four World Series with the St. Louis Browns from 1885-88 ... but according to North Bay stats guru Neil Munro, prior to 1903 the World Series contests were considered exhibitions. There was not a set schedule. The purpose was to make some money. Teams played until the interest by spectators waned.
For example The 1887 Series between the Detroit Wolverines and the Browns lasted 15 games, Detroit winning 10-5.
Born in Springfield, Ont., O’Neill hit .240 in 38 games with five homers, 25 RBIs and a .693 OPS (although we’re not sure he knew the term then).
Justin Morneau was at first for the Bucs making his 13th post-season start and had a pair of hits.
The only other Canadian-born teammates who started post-season games together were Corey Koskie and Morneau, who started all four games of the Minnesota Twins AL division series loss to the Yankees.
Two of Martin’s homers came this fall in the wild-card game as the Pirates beat the Cincinnati Reds 6-2, the first off Johnny Cueto as fans chanted his name so loudly Cueto dropped the ball. Martin went deep on the next pitch and he homered again in the seventh off reliever Logan Ondrusek.
Martin is first amongst Canadians in post-season games, doubles and walks according to Scott Crawford of the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame. Martin is second in at-bats, hits and RBIs and third in runs, homers and total bases.
Pirates manager Clint Hurdle, who started A.J. Burnett in Game 1, jumped off that horse and went with Gerrit Cole, who allowed one run in six innings of the Pirates Game 2 win.
“He’s one of the young pitchers I stayed in Bradenton to get to know and learn this spring,” said Martin. This time Cole, made his debut June 11 against the San Francisco Giants, giving up two runs in 6 1/3 innings as Martin had two hits and knocked in a run, allowed a two-run homer to David Freese in the second inning and that was all in five innings of work,
The Cards had not lost a deciding game at home since 1968 (Mickey Lolich, Detroit Tigers), and have won eight of nine elimination games, thanks to Wainwright’s complete game.
Hurdle has praised Martin for his preparation and approach this season starting 117 games and again in post-season play.
Martin says there isn’t any difference between a game in regular-season game and October.
“It’s kind of the same routine,” Martin told reporters. “Get to the field; after batting practice, have a meeting with the pitcher, go over the lineup. Pretty much the same we would do during the regular season.
“Every pitcher is a little different. For the most part, we built this relationship throughout the year. I feel comfortable with any pitcher we have on the staff. The only thing that’s different is every pitch is magnified at this point. Other than that, it’s the same game.”
And no Canadian has played more games in the post season than Martin.
Canadian all-time post-season leaders
Russell Martin 39
Tip O’Neill 38
Larry Walker 28
George Selkirk 21
Corey Koskie and Justin Morneau 4.
Jason Bay 12