November 8 is a pretty boring day in history, which is why today’s move wasn’t even done by the Montreal/Washington franchise. Today’s move was Mark Gardner being granted free-agency.
Gardner, now the San Francisco Giants bullpen coach, finished his career with the Giants following the 2001 season but he started his career in Montreal and had his best season with the Expos in 1990 by ERA+. His best game came in 1991, just one day before Dennis Martinez‘s perfect game against the Los Angeles Dodgers when he pitched a no-hitter that was lost in extra innings in a 0-0 game. He gave up two hits before being removed in the 10th and Jeff Fassero gave up the game-winning hit. For the Dodgers, Orel Hershiser, Kevin Gross and Jay Howell combined for a two-hit shutout of the Expos that day. It would mean that the Expos would have held the Dodgers to zero hits in the first nine innings of two straight games. Not quite Johnny Vandermeer but impressive none the less.
After the 1992 season he went to Kansas City and Florida before finally ending up with the Giants where he spent the final six years of his career. Gardner had a pretty decent Major League career falling just short of 100 wins. He pitched until age 39, forcing me to wonder if that was actually the Mark Gardner I thought it was. He was remarkably consistent from 1994-1999 with outliers in his final three seasons.
Gardner will probably have a future as a pitching coach. He has won two World Series as a bullpen coach with the Giants, where he has been since 2003. That makes 15 years with the Giants going back to his playing days in 1996 and accounting for his two years off between playing and coaching. Despite his long playing career, he only had one postseason appearance – a start in the 2000 NLDS. He went 4.1 innings and allowed four runs, picking up the loss.
Career Statistics: 99-93, 4.56 ERA, 1 save, 1764.2 IP, 628:1256 BB:K
Statistics with Montreal: 28-33, 3.96 ERA, 527 IP, 207:395 BB:K