The Blue Jays opened their purse strings in a big way on Monday, agreeing to terms with Russell Martin on a five-year, $82 million free agent contract.
Martin was born just outside Toronto and grew up in Montreal, which might have served as a factor in the club’s aggressive approach to signing him. You know, marketing and all that. Here’s an interesting note from Brendan Kennedy of the Toronto Star …
Considered among the top free agents in this year’s class, Martin will become the 21st Canadian to play for the Jays. But he is easily the most high profile and is set to lead the most Canadian Jays’ team in franchise history.
Never before has the club boasted more than one Canadian position player in the starting lineup, and next year they could have three in Martin, Langley, B.C.-native Brett Lawrie and Mississauga’s Dalton Pompey.
Kennedy says the Blue Jays have been trying to stir country-wide interest in the club “more than ever in recent years” with a Winter Tour through the Canadian provinces, more of an emphasis on the maple leaf in hat and uniform logos, and by celebrating Canada Day with a matinee game at Rogers Centre. They’ve also begun playing preseason games at Olympic Stadium in Montreal, and those have been a tremendous success.
With his Astros trailing the Tigers 2-1, catcher Robinson Chirinos began his at-bat in the bottom of the ninth a triple shy of the cycle. He doubled in the second inning, singled in the fourth, and hit a solo homer in the seventh. Yordan Álvarez and Yuli Gurriel both struck out, leaving the Astros’ fate in the hands of Chirinos against Joe Jiménez. After working the count to 2-1, Chirinos slapped an 85 MPH slider to the gap in right-center field. A diving Travis Demeritte could not come up with the ball, but center fielder Harold Castro fired the ball back in to Gordon Beckham, who then made a perfect throw to Dawel Lugo at third base. Chirinos was tagged out for the final out of the game. No triple, no cycle. The Astros lost 2-1.
Chirinos was attempting to become the first Astro to hit for the cycle since Brandon Barnes on July 19, 2013 against the Mariners.
The Astros entered Wednesday’s game as the largest favorite in 15 seasons, according to ESPN’s David Purdum. The Astros were -500 per Caesars Sportsbook. Other sportsbooks had them at -550. So the Tigers’ win was quite the upset.
Justin Verlander went the distance in the loss. The only blemishes on his line were solo homers to Ronny Rodríguez in the fifth and John Hicks in the ninth. They were the only hits he allowed while walking none and striking out 11.