Historical Game Recap: Blue Jays 13 @ Tigers 11 - September 25, 1996

Former Blue Jays catcher Julio Mosquera finishes his swing in Spring Training 1998. - David Seelig/Stringer/Getty Images

Rookie catcher Julio Mosquera has a four-hit game as the Blue Jays win over the Tigers. He would end up having just seven in his career.

Blue Jays 13 Tigers 11

After giving up six runs in the bottom of the fifth, the Toronto Blue Jays roared back with six of their own in the top of the 6th and hung on to edge the Detroit Tigers 13-11 in a very sparsely-attended afternoon tilt in Tiger Stadium. Only 3,514 fans decided to go out for the game (8,055 had bought tickets)--I wonder how many of those were Blue Jays fans from southwestern Ontario.

Starter Blues

Rookie Marty Janzen started for the Jays, going 4.2 innings and giving up 7 runs (all earned) on 9 hits, 3 of which were homers (to Curtis Pride, Phil Nevin, and Tony Clark), getting a game score of 22. This was his last start of the season, but definitely not least in terms of game score. He recorded a paltry 17 back in June against the Royals, giving up 7 runs on 12 hits (also 3 homers), and 3 walks without striking anyone out. The next start he did worse, giving up 8 runs on 8 hits and 6 walks against the Rangers for a game score of 15. If you recall, Janzen was a top Yankees prospect and was the main piece in the 1995 deadline trade when the Jays sent David Cone back to the Big Apple. Janzen would not start again in the Major Leagues. He started 1997 in Syracuse and was recalled on several occasions as a reliever. His last game in the Majors came on September 27, 1997--a year and two days from this game. He would toil in affiliated baseball until 2002 and he pitched in various independent leagues until 2005.

Coming in relief of Janzen were Scott Brow (who recorded his first win since 1993), Bill Risley, Dane Johnson, and Mike Timlin (who recorded his 29th save en route to a career high 31 saves in that year).

Rookies Everywhere

The starting offense of the Blue Jays must have looked offensive at the start of the game:

Batting BA OPS
Shannon Stewart CF .176 .458
Felipe Crespo 3B .171 .677
Carlos Delgado 1B .275 .861
Ed Sprague DH .248 .822
Jacob Brumfield LF .264 .785
Shawn Green RF .277 .783
Tilson Brito SS .238 .707
Miguel Cairo 2B .222 .596
Julio Mosquera C .227 .579

This motley crew managed to score 13 runs somehow though. Carlos Delgado hit his 25th and final home run of the season, and Ed Sprague followed up with his team-leading 35th homer in his career year. The Blue Jays used rookies in the game: Marty Janzen, Scott Brow, Dane Johnson, Shannon Stewart, Felipe Crespo, Tilson Brito, Miguel Cairo, and Julio Mosquera.

Julio Mosquera and his Place in Baseball's Record Books

But the surprise of the game came from rookie catcher Julio Mosquera. The 24-year old Panamanian catcher had the game of his career, slapping 4 hits in 5 at bats and collecting 2 RBI on the way. With the bases loaded in the second, Mosquera had an infield single, scoring Jacob Bumfield from third for the first run of the game. He singled again in the fourth, grounded out in the fifth, had an RBI-single in the sixth, then doubled off of Jose Lima in the ninth. According to Allan Ryan of the Toronto Star the next day, Mosquera only started the game because Sandy (aka Angel) Martinez had an upset stomach after going through the pre-game spread. After his post-game shower, Mosquera put on his rookie-hazing costume, which "consisted of shredded and mismatched jacket and slacks (in the case, mad plaids), one pant leg a foot shorter than the other" according to the Star reporter--much more tame than the cross-dressing styles of today. A teammate even scribbled the words "BIG MAN" in marker on his white loafers after his big game.

Unfortunately, after his four-hit game, the Big Man only had two more for the rest of his Major League career for a total of seven in his career. He only appeared in four more games (three in 1997 with the Jays and a single game with the Brewers in 2005). This gives Julio Mosquera the obscure record for being the player with the second fewest career hits to record a four-hit game. Cincinnati Reds pitcher Bobby Livingston tied Mosquera in 2007, recording a 4-hit game against the Braves on June 16. After digging through Baseball-Reference.com's fantastic Play Index, I discovered that the record for the player with the fewest career hits to record a four-hit game still belongs to St. Louis Cardinals second baseman Chip Coulter. He recorded a four-hit game against the Montreal Expos on September 26, 1969, but only had six in his career. Current Blue Jays manager John Gibbons is also near the top of this list: he had a 4-hit game on September 20, 1986, and finished is 18-game career (during which he wore three different numbers - #8, #35, #7) with just 11 hits.

Jays of the Day! Ed Sprague (+.240), Julio Mosquera (+.184), Shawn Green (+.163), Tilson Brito (+.125), Mike Timlin (+.122)

Suckage Jays Marty Janzen (-.455), Dane Johnson (-.111)

Other Notes About September 25, 1996

  • The Tigers dropped to 53-106 (.333) after this game, setting a then-franchise record for losses (they were later surpassed by the 2003 Detroit Tigers who finished 43-119). Detroit lost 3 more to finish the season 53-109 (.327) in last place, 39 games behind the first place New York Yankees. The Blue Jays finished fourth with a 74-88 (.457) record, 18 games back.
  • Those first-place Yankees actually won the American League East for the first time in 15 years. They just came off of a 13-year streak without going to the playoffs (they won the Wildcard in 1995). They have just missed the playoffs once since, in 2008.
  • The Montreal Expos were just two games back of the San Diego Padres for the National League Wildcard. Unfortunately they went 2-2 for the rest of the season while the Padres won their last three games.
  • Pittsburgh Pirates manager Jim Leyland lost his final home game in Pittsburgh. He tendered his resignation after 11 years at the helm because he could not see the Pirates contending any time soon. He went on to manage the 1997 World Series champions Florida Marlins as well as the 54-108 Marlins in 1998 after their franchise-first firesale.
  • Blue Jays AAA-affiliate Syracuse Chiefs announced that they were changing their team name to the SkyChiefs due to pressures from Native American groups. They dropped their "Indian head" logo in order to honour Syracuse's aviation history by adopting a logo that featured a flying bat-plane-shark. Syracuse changed its name back to Chiefs after a decade, this time honouring railroad chiefs.
Sources

Toronto Star archives, Baseball-Reference.com.

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