By Bob Elliott
One of the most exciting World Series games in recent years was Game 6 of the 2011 World Series when the Texas Rangers met the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium.
Perhaps the most stand up and “will-he or won’t-he?” moment in a ball park is a bid for an inside-the-park home run.
We’ll get to those in a second as the Blue Jays both beefed up their bullpen by adding a power arm in Mark Lowe, 32, from the Seattle Mariners and speedy left fielder Ben Revere, 27, from the Philadelphia Phillies before Friday’s non-waiver trade deadline.
In Game 6, the Rangers went up 6-4 in the seventh on back-to-back homers by Nelson Cruz and Adrian Beltre plus an Ian Kinsler single. Down 7-5 in the bottom of the ninth and down to their last strike, David Freese hit a two-run triple to right.
Josh Hamilton hit a two-run homer in the top of the 10th, but Ryan Theriot and Lance Berkman hit two-strike, run-scoring singles in the 10th.
And in the 11th, Freese hit a 3-2 pitch for a walk-off homer, sending the 47,325 fans home happy.
Unless you were the guy who threw the pitch of course.
That was Mark Lowe, acquired for three minor leaguers.
Hey, Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley gave up a post-season bomb once too.
Confidence shaken, it took a while for Lowe to bounce back. He developed a slider this spring training, his velocity came back and he has displayed a 96 mph sinker and has hit 97 mph with his four-seam fastball.
Lowe, 32, was 0-1 with a 1.00 ERA in 34 games this season for the Mariners, walking 11 and striking out 47 in 36 innings in 34 games. Opponents were hitting .235 against Lowe, who owned the title as most reliable reliever on the team.
In Revere, the Jays added a speedster with three career homers in 2,414 plate appearances. The Jays moved right-handers Jimmy Cordero (0-1, 2.70 ERA at single-A Dunedin and double-A New Hampshire) and Alberto Tirado (4-3, 3.23 at Dunedin).
The Phillies sent cash to help Rogers Communications pay the 1/3 remaining on Revere’s $4.1 million contract. He was hitting .298 with 13 doubles, six triples, one homer and 26 RBIs in 96 games while going 24-for-29 stealing bases. Revere is not a free agent until 2018.
“His best position is in left, he’s below average in centre,” said a National League scout, “on a ball to centre runners from first don’t stop at second. He’s an above average runner with a way below average arm. He’ll get on base for those guys.
“He’s a poor man’s Juan Pierre.”
As for the inside-the-park home run specialist, or almost specialist, Revere had zero career homers in 2011.
So, in August of 2011 when he a Rick Porcello pitch into the right-centre field gap of spacious Comerica Park he tried for an inside-the-park homer. Revere cracked catcher Tiger Alex Avila, who hung onto the ball and Revere was still homerless.
And the next month at Target Field Jarrod Dyson of the Kansas City Royals dove for Revere’s drive in centre and missed. Off Revere went. Alcides Escobar took the relay, threw home and Salvador Perez applied the tag.
Finally in May 28, 2014, after 384 games and 1,466 at-bats Revere hit his first major league homer. He homered off Boone Logan in the Phillies 6-2 loss to the Colordado Rockies. It was the longest homerless streak opening a career since Frank Tavares of the Pittsburgh Pirates went 1,594 homerless at-bats from 1972-77.
Signed to a minor-league deal, Lowe pitched seven games at triple-A Tacoma before being recalled May 6. The Jays saw an up-close look at Lowe on their recent trip to Safeco. It was not pretty for all those blue-clad British Columbia fans.
Lowe worked a scoreless seventh in the 5-2 Seattle win getting Josh Donaldson on a fly ball to deep centre, Jose Bautista on a deep fly ball to left, allowing a single to Edwin Encarnacion and retiring Justin Smoak on a liner to centre.
Two days later with the score tied he retired Bautista on a deep fly to centre, walked Encarnacion, then struck out Smoak and Russell Martin in the eighth.
Then, he struck out Ezequiel Carrera, got Kevin Pillar on a liner, gave up singles to Devon Travis and Jose Reyes and retired Donaldson on a grounder to end the ninth as Seattle won in 10.
A Houston native Lowe is 8-22 with a 3.80 ERA in 305 appearances in 10 seasons with Seattle, Texas, Los Angeles Angels and Cleveland Indians, Seattle and Texas.
The Jays gave up Nick Wells (1-2, 4.78 at rookie-class Bluefield), Jacob Brentz (0-2, 4.09 at Bluefield) and Rob Rasmussen (4-2, 2.36 at triple-A Buffalo) for Lowe, like Brandon Morrow, a diabetic.
There is excitement around the Blue Jays and it is valid.
There are comparisons to the 1992-93 teams and the ability to score runs. They too are valid.
Yet, it is difficult to make a proper comparison between Rickey Henderson, Robbie Alomar, Paul Molitor, Joe Carter, John Olerud and Devon White until Troy Tulowitzki, Donaldson, Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion and Martin until they at least book an October date.
The Jays won the 2013 off season.
They won have won the 2015 trade deadline too.
There remains one more thing for them to win.