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Today in Jays History: First regular season Jays and Expos game

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Toronto Blue Jays v Philadelphia Phillies Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

23 Years Ago Today

The Blue Jays and Expos played their first regular-season game.

The Jays and Expos used to play an exhibition game, during the season on a shared off-day. I’m sure the players were thrilled, though my memory says that neither team used the regulars, but mostly minor leaguers brought in for the game.Anyway this game:

Expos 2 Blue Jays 1

It was a pitcher’s duel.

Pedro Martinez threw a complete game 3-hitter, allowing a run, a walk with 10 strikeouts. The run against was Carlos Delgado home run, his 15h of the season. Carlos was in his second full season with the Jays. He was hitting .268/.358/.553 after the game, easily the best hitter on the team. He finished the season with 30 home runs.The win raised Martinez’ record to 10-3 with a 1.54 ERA. He finished the season 18=7-8 with a 1.90 ERA in 31 starts, 241.2 innings. Pedro wasn’t a big man, listed at 5’11”, 170 pounds, it is hard to imagine someone that small throwing 240 innings. He won his first Cy Young award that year (Canadian teams owned both Cy Young winners, Roger Clemens won in the AL) and, of course, was traded to the Red Sox after the season for the baseball equivalent of belly lint.

Pat Hentgen pitched for the Jays, throwing a complete game as well. 6 hits, 2 earned, 1 walk with 3 strikeouts. His record fell to 8-5 with a 3.11 ERA. He finished with a 15-10 record and a 3.68 ERA in 35 games, throwing 264 innings.Hentgen gave up a home run to Vladimir Guerrero (back in the days when he didn’t need a Sr. behind his name). It was his 4th home run of the season and hitting .317/.369/.476. He hit .302/.350/.483 in 90 games and finished 6th in Rookie of the Year voting.

The other run came in the sixth inning. Mark Grudzielanek led off with a single and scored when David Segui hit a 2-out triple.Batting order construction was never Cito’s strong point. He had Joe Carter batting 3rd, when he was hitting .240/.291/.384 at that point. Cito didn’t see that Carter. He saw the Carter who hit the World Series-winning home run.

It would turn out to be Cito and Carter’s last season with the team (well, at least until Cito was rehired as batting coach in a few years and then as manager later).When you look at the Jays lineup, you can see why we went so long without getting into the playoff again. After Delgado, Shawn Green, the best player on the team, was still fighting for a full-time role and would be traded in a couple of years. Beyond those two, Orlando Merced kind of an ok DH, but was coming to the end of his career. Otis Nixon could steal bases, but that was about it.

Ed Sprague would hit .228/.306/.385 that season and was traded the next year. Alex Gonzalez was good with the glove, but hit .239/.302/.387 that year. Carlos Garcia came over in the same trade as Merced and was, well, terrible.The Jays dropped to 37-40, 3rd in the AL East. They finished 76-86, in 5th place.

The Expos were 45-35, which, amazingly, had them tied for 3rd in the NL East. But things went bad after that. They finished the season 78-84, in 4th place. 1997 was two years after the owners locked out the players, ending the 1995 season and the Expos’ best chance at the playoffs.

Jays of the Day were Hentgen (.224 WPA) and Delgado (.162).

Suckage, well pretty much the whole batting lineup: Garcia (-.169), Merced (-.145), Santiago (-.130), Nixon (-.128), and Carter (.106).

Expos of the Day: Martinez (.724), Segui (.171) and Guerrero (.113).

Suckage: Henry Rodriguez (-.150), Mike Lansing (-.116) and F.P. Santangelo (-.101).

Montreal Expos Table
Batting AB R H RBI BB SO PA BA OBP SLG OPS Pit Str WPA Details
Mark Grudzielanek SS 3 1 1 0 0 0 4 .288 .337 .403 .740 10 9 -0.011 SH
Mike Lansing 2B 4 0 0 0 0 0 4 .275 .337 .469 .806 11 10 -0.116
F.P. Santangelo 3B 4 0 0 0 0 1 4 .313 .443 .472 .915 9 8 -0.101
David Segui 1B 3 0 2 1 1 0 4 .327 .412 .508 .920 13 6 0.171 3B
Henry Rodriguez LF 4 0 0 0 0 0 4 .280 .333 .529 .862 10 7 -0.150 GDP
Joe Orsulak LF 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 .232 .330 .358 .688
Vladimir Guerrero RF 4 1 2 1 0 0 4 .317 .369 .476 .845 7 7 0.113 HR
Ryan McGuire DH 3 0 0 0 0 1 3 .362 .413 .638 1.051 12 8 -0.059
Rondell White CF 3 0 0 0 0 0 3 .267 .315 .427 .742 12 9 -0.063
Chris Widger C 3 0 1 0 0 1 3 .273 .309 .482 .791 16 11 -0.008
Team Totals 31 2 6 2 1 3 33 .194 .219 .355 .574 100 75 -0.224
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/30/2020.
Toronto Blue Jays Table
Batting AB R H RBI BB SO PA BA OBP SLG OPS Pit Str WPA Details
Otis Nixon CF 4 0 1 0 0 3 4 .273 .365 .307 .673 15 11 -0.128
Orlando Merced DH 4 0 0 0 0 1 4 .282 .354 .444 .798 14 11 -0.145
Joe Carter LF 4 0 0 0 0 3 4 .240 .291 .384 .675 13 12 -0.118
Carlos Delgado 1B 2 1 1 1 1 0 3 .268 .358 .553 .910 12 8 0.162 HR
Ed Sprague 3B 3 0 0 0 0 1 3 .250 .325 .465 .790 12 7 -0.106
Shawn Green RF 3 0 0 0 0 1 3 .271 .331 .471 .803 9 7 -0.081
Benito Santiago C 3 0 0 0 0 1 3 .195 .230 .276 .505 11 9 -0.130
Alex Gonzalez SS 3 0 1 0 0 0 3 .248 .289 .389 .678 11 8 -0.010
Carlos Garcia 2B 3 0 0 0 0 0 3 .209 .243 .294 .537 8 7 -0.169 GDP
Team Totals 29 1 3 1 1 10 30 .103 .133 .207 .340 105 80 -0.725
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/30/2020.
Montreal Expos Table
Pitching IP H R ER BB SO HR ERA BF Pit Str Ctct GSc WPA
Pedro Martinez, W (10-3) 9 3 1 1 1 10 1 1.54 30 105 80 38 86 0.724
Team Totals 9 3 1 1 1 10 1 1.00 30 105 80 38 86 0.724
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/30/2020.
Toronto Blue Jays Table
Pitching IP H R ER BB SO HR ERA BF Pit Str Ctct GSc WPA
Pat Hentgen, L (8-5) 9 6 2 2 1 3 1 3.11 33 100 75 46 69 0.224
Team Totals 9 6 2 2 1 3 1 2.00 33 100 75 46 69 0.224
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/30/2020.