Monday, April 8, 2013

1993 TOPPS FINEST: #17 DUANE WARD


HARD, BITING SLIDER WAS HIS GO-TO PITCH.




STEPPED INTO THE CLOSER'S ROLE IN '93.


DEFINING THE PLAYER

  • Duane Ward seemingly was here today and gone tomorrow as a preeminent reliever of the early 1990s. After serving an apprenticeship to closer #164 Tom Henke, Ward took over when Henke became a free-agent after the '92 season. Ward thrived, saving a league-high 45 games in '93 as the Blue Jays defended their World Series flag.

DEFINING MOMENT

  • A World Series record 29 runs had been scored when Ward climbed the hill with two outs in the bottom of the eighth in Game 4 on Oct. 20, 1993. Ward made sure the Phillies would score no more as he retired the four batters he faced, two by strikeout. It would be his only World Series save. 

DEFINING SEASON

  • The 45 saves in '93 established a Blue Jays season record. He also finished a league-high 70 games, posted a 2.13 ERA and struck out 97 in 71.2 innings.

FIVE FINAL FACTS

  1. Earned two wins in relief in the '92 World Series against the Braves, pitching 3.1 shutout innings in four games and striking out six.
  2. Toronto acquired Ward from Atlanta in July '86 for Doyle Alexander.
  3. His 45 saves tied him for the league lead with #42 Jeff Montgomery of Kansas City.
  4. Finished ninth in Cy Young voting in '91 as a set-up man, pitching in 81 games and striking out 132 in 107.1 innings.
  5. After his breakthrough '93 season, Ward never saved another game as injuries took their toll, including biceps tendinitis that sidelined him for all of '94. He retired after pitching in four games in '95.

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