Friday, December 5, 2014

#335 Mark Portugal

About the Front: I should be keeping a mullet count for this set. I can't see the front, but it's definitely a party in the back for the Houston hurler.

About the Back: All the Twins got in return for Mark Portugal was a Player to Be Named Later, who wound up being minor league pitcher Todd McClure. McClure was out of baseball within a year of the deal. Smooth move, Minnesota.

Triple Play:

1. Mark tossed 10 shutout innings against the Phillies on June 11, 1991, allowing six hits and one walk and striking out seven. But Houston failed to score after pinch hitting for their starter and stranding the bases loaded in the bottom of the tenth. Roger McDowell walked Ken Oberkfell in the 11th to force in the winning run, at least giving Portugal's team the victory even if he himself was stuck with an unlucky no-decision.

2. He was the 1994 Silver Slugger Award winner as the National League's best-hitting pitcher. In 54 trips to the plate, he hit .354 and slugged .500 with five doubles, a triple, and eight runs batted in.

3. One of the top Google recommendations when I searched for "mark portugal" was "mark portugal sandwich". Intrigued, I clicked around and learned that there is indeed a sandwich named after the pitcher at McGonigel's Mucky Duck, a whimsically-named Houston pub that Portugal frequented during his Astros tenure. The lunch fare was personally created by the righty: Boar's Head roasted turkey, avocado, Muenster cheese, mayo, and bacon on a French roll. It sounds tasty, though I'd probably hold the mayo.

11-Year-Old Kevin Says: Down the stretch in 1993, I remember Portugal having a personal 12-game win streak, allowing him to finish the season 18-4 with a 2.77 ERA. It was an impressive run: over his last 16 starts he was 12-0 with a 1.99 ERA. Incidentally, it was the pitcher's only 15-win season in 15 tries.

Bill James Said: "He has a complete set of tools - fastball, curve, slider, the famous change-up."

On This Date in 1993: December 5. Doug Hopkins, co-founder and lead guitarist of the Gin Blossoms, commits suicide by gunshot while in the early stages of psychiatric treatment for alcoholism. He is 32 years old at the time of his death.

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