There are some players you just are drawn to for whatever reason. For me, it just happened to be Zach Day. Day was a right handed pitcher who was acquired from the Cleveland Indians at the 2001 Trade Deadline for Milton Bradley.
For whatever reason, I liked him even before he made his Major League debut. But when he did, I just happened to have some odd timing with him.
I was there while Carl Pavano was getting hit hard by the Toronto Blue Jays. This was before Pavano’s turn to become a serviceable pitcher and when people still saw Pedro Martinez every time he took the mound. Even that wasn’t often due to his injuries.
The Expos were down 2-0 to Esteban Loaiza and the Blue Jays in the 4th inning. Pavano started off the inning allowing a home run to Vernon Wells and walked the next hitter Joe Lawrence. That was it for Pavano and Day walked in to make his debut.
Day pitched three no-hit innings, facing only 10 hitters (there was an error). The Expos scored three in the bottom of the 4th to tie it and three more in the sixth and seventh innings. They won 9-3 and just like that Day had the first win of his Major League career.
That isn’t even where it ended with Day. I was at Olympic Stadium a week later when he faced the Cleveland Indians. It was his first Major League start and his first Major League loss. The Expos lost that game 5-4 to the Indians and future Expo Bartolo Colon (more on that game later.)
Day also got his first Major League hit in that game. So, for those keeping track. First game, win, start, loss and hit. And the oddest thing? Late in September I attended a couple of games. One of them was September 26 when the Expos played the Marlins.
Getting his first career save that day? Zach Day.
I don’t know what drew me to Day. Maybe it was the fact that he was acquired at the Trade Deadline. Maybe it was the fact that I always liked obscure starting pitchers acquired in trades. Scott Downs, I’m looking at you. Either way, my experiences at those three games did nothing to make me like Day less.
Day had pretty good if unremarkable seasons in 2003 and 2004 and in 2005 and 2006, struggled at the Major League level before finally retiring in 2007. Day was one of many players who had promise with the Expos but never quite had the longevity people expected. Other players in that category are Brad Wilkerson and Chad Cordero.
He is now working with coaches and scouts to understand the latest technology when it comes to pitches which he wrote about at Baseball Prospectus in December.