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Random Jays Recap: Jays @ Cleveland, April 23, 1990

Toronto Blue Jays
Fred McGriff
Photo by Bernstein Associates/Getty Images

Today’s random Jays recap comes from April 23rd, 1990. The Jays 14th season in the MLB.

Cleveland 9 Blue Jays 12


Tony Fernandez, SS Jerry Browne, 2B
Mookie Wilson, CF Mitch Webster, CF
Kelly Gruber, 3B Chris James, DH
George Bell, LF Cory Snyder, RF
Fred McGriff, 1B Candy Maldonado, LF
John Olerud, DH Brook Jacoby, 3B
Myers, C Keith Hernandez, 1B
Liriano, 2B Sandy Alomar, C
Junior Felix, RF Felix Fermin, SS
Mike Flanagan, P John Farrell, P

Coming into the game the Blue Jays were 8-5, sitting first in the AL East, 1 game up from the Brewers. 1.5 up from Cleveland, Red Sox, and Orioles.

Getting the start was Mike Flanagan. Flanagan was making his third start of the season, he was 2-0 going into the game. In each of his first two starts he went 5 innings allowing 1 run. Flanagan was 38 that season, nearing the end of a very good career. He pitched 14 and a half seasons with the Orioles before the Jays traded for him in August of 1987 (to shore up their rotation for the playoff run). By then he was the poster child for the ‘crafty lefty’, who got guys out by guile more than by pure stuff.

1990 would be Mike’s fourth (and last) season with the Jays (well 3 seasons plus a month). 1991 he signed back with the Orioles to pitch out of their bullpen. He would be very good in 1991 (2.38 in 98 relief innings). 1992 didn’t go as well (8.05 in 34 relief innings). That would be the end of his career.

There is a great story about Flanagan throwing 11 innings in a game in 1987, giving up just 1 run (unearned). When he came out he said ‘Oh, you are only wanting 11 from me today”.

Starting for Cleveland was future Jay manager John Farrell. Farrell was in the fourth year of his MLB career. This was his 3rd start of the season. He was 1-1 with a 3.75 ERA. Unfortunately, later in the season, he suffered an elbow injury which kept him off the mound for the next two seasons. When he came back in 1993, he wasn’t the same pitcher. He would pitch in 27 more games, spread over 4 seasons.

Neither starter had a good game:

Top of the first: Flanagan gave up 4 singles, a walk and a wild pitch, before getting his second out. Before the inning ended we were down 3-0.

Top of the second: Flanagan had similar troubles, going ground out, single, line out, single. And that was the end of his day. Jim Acker came in, and gave up a 2-run double to Cory Snyder.

The Jays would trade for Snyder in the middle of the 1991 season (one of many trades that year). Snyder was to give the Jays a power bat for the playoff run. It didn’t work out, Snyder hit just .143/.189/.184 in 21 games for the Jays.

Jays down 5-0

Top of the third: The runs kept coming, Acker walked Brook Jacoby and then gave up another double to Keith Hernandez. Jacoby, you might remember, was the Jays hitting coach from the start of the 2015 season until the end of the 2018 season, minus the 14-day suspension he served for putting his hands on an umpire after a game.

Hernandez was in the last season of a very good career too. He came up with the Cardinals, played there for 9 and a half seasons. He was NL MVP in 1979 and won 6 Gold Gloves. But Keith was a partier and manager Whitey Herzog worried about his influence on younger players with the Cardinals. Herzog traded him to the Mets for pennies on the dollar.

Herzog may have had a point. Mets’ players Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry (among others) have been dealing with addiction issues since their playing days.

Jays were down 6-0.

Bottom of the third: Our Jays finally broke through. Mookie Wilson hit a 1-out single and stole second. After Kelly Gruber struck out, George Bell singled home Wilson. Singles from Fred McGriff and John Olerud scored Bell.

McGriff and Tony Fernandez would traded for Roberto Alomar and Joe Carter after the season and Bell left as a free agent.

Jays were down 6-2.

Top of the fourth: Mitch Webster hit a solo homer making it 7-2.

Webster started his major league career as a Blue Jay. We traded him to the Expos at the end of the 1985 season for Cliff Young. A couple of months later we lost Young in the Rule 5 draft. Webster went on to do pretty good for the Expos, hitting .279/.354/.421 with 36 home runs and 96 steals in 462 games. From there he went on to the Cubs, Cleveland, Pirates, and Dodgers. He was never a star, but he had a 13-year MLB career. I always kind of liked him, played good defense in all three spots, got on base some, stole some bases, and had occasional power. He’d look great in our outfield today.

Top of the fifth: Cleveland got two more runs off Jim Acker. Candy Maldonado (who would become a Jay in August of 1991 and would pick up a World Series ring) was hit by pitch to lead off the inning. He would score on a Brook Jacoby double. Two outs later a Felix Fermin single would score Jacoby. Cleveland up 9-2.

Bottom of the fifth: The comeback starts:

  • Gruber singles.
  • Bell doubles.
  • Fred McGriff singles and two score. McGriff was out at second trying to stretch it to a double.
  • John Olerud homers.
  • After Greg Myers makes the first out of the inning, Nelson Liriano walks, steals second and move to third on catcher Sandy Alomar’s throwing error.
  • Junior Felix doubles home Liriano and finally Cleveland manager John McNamara pulls Farrell from the game. The score is now 9-6. Al Nipper comes in.
  • Tony Fernandez greet him with a single, Felix scores.
  • Singles from Mookie Wilson and Gruber brings Fernandez around and it is 9-8 suddenly. Nipper is out and Steve Olin comes in. Olin gets Bell to end the inning.

Something Minor League said the other day reminded me that Steve Olin and another Cleveland pitcher Tim Crews died in a boating accident. A third Cleveland pitcher, Bob Ojeda was badly injured in the crash.

March 22, 1993, during an off-day during Spring Training. Olin, Crews and Oleda were doing some ‘night fishing’, Crews’ widow says alligator hunting, but out on a high speed bass boat. Coming back, after doing too much drinking, they hit an neighbors unlighted wooden dock, at high rate of speed.

Olin was pronounced dead at the scene, he was just 27. Crews was airlifted to hospital but died, he was 31. Oleda apparently was sitting lower than the other two. Reports were that he was ‘scalped’ by the dock, but remained conscious. He tried to come back to baseball, near the end of the season, but he was suffering from depression. He signed with the Yankees before the 1994 season but made just two starts and was released. He went into broadcasting after his career was over.

Bottom of the sixth: Kevin Wickander came in the game for Cleveland. He loaded the bases, with 2 walks and a hit batter, getting two outs. Cecilio Guante came in with the bases loaded and gave up a 2-run single to Fernandez.

We were up 10-9.

Bottom of the seventh: We got two more runs on solo homers from Gruber and McGriff.

12-9 Blue Jays.

After Flanagan left the game:

  • Jim Acker pitched 3.1 innings, allowing 5 hit, 4 earned, 1 walk and 3 strikeouts.
  • Frank Wills pitched the sixth inning, 3-up, 3-down, and he got the win.
  • Duane Ward pitched the last 3 innings, getting the save, he allowed 2 hits and got 3 strikeouts.

Jays of the Day: Fernandez (.332 WPA, 2 for 6 with 3 RBI), Gruber (3 for 5, home run), Olerud (.125, 2 for 3, 2 walks, home run) and Ward (.175, for the 3 inning save).

Suckage: Flanagan (-.234, 1.2 innings, 6 hits, 5 runs, 4 earned, 1 walk) and Acker (-.187).

After the game we were 9-5, first in the AL East. We would finish second, 2 games back of the Red Sox.