Major League Baseball’s first weekend of interleague play featured a pitching matchup of two former Bellingham Bells at Coors Field. On Saturday, May 20, Canadian born southpaw Jeff Francis of the Colorado Rockies out-dueled his 2002 Bells teammate Ty Taubenheim of the Toronto Blue Jays in Taubenheim’s major league debut.
Francis took a no-hitter into the sixth inning and the Rockies beat the Blue Jays 5-1 to spoil Taubenheim’s debut. Francis gave up one earned run and four hits in six-plus innings to even his record at 3-3. Taubenheim allowed three earned runs and five hits in five innings. He walked three and hit two, an uncharacteristically wild night for a pitcher who hadn’t walked more than two batters in any of his eight starts at Triple A Syracuse. Francis is following up a solid rookie year with a strong start to the 2006 season as his 3.07 ERA is the Colorado rotation’s lowest.
Ty made his major league debut after being called up from Triple A Syracuse where Taubenheim posted an impressive 1.36 ERA over 8 starts. The right-hander from Bellingham pitched for his hometown Bells in the summer of 2002. Francis made his last amateur start for the Bells before signing with the Rockies. Jeff was selected in the first round of the 2002 MLB draft out of University of British Columbia. While Francis left for the pros, Taubenheim spent the entire 2002 summer with the Bells and in league play went 1-2 while recording one save and posting a 4.86 ERA.
Taubenheim was selected by the Milwaukee Brewers out of Edmonds C.C. in the 19th round of the 2003 MLB draft. Ty came to Toronto as part of the deal that brought Olympia, Washington native Lyle Overbay to the Blue Jays.
The last time these two pitched on the same field they combined to shutout the Wenatchee AppleSox 2-0. Francis tossed six innings of two-hit ball while striking out 8 and Taubenheim finished the game with three innings of no-hit relief while striking out 4. Francis recorded the win and Taubenheim the save before an opening night crowd of 879 at Wenatchee’s Paul Thomas Field.
Be sure not to miss this season’s opening night. It’s your chance to catch today’s college stars and possibly tomorrow’s big leaguers. The WCCBL season opens in Aloha June 15 and in Bellingham, Kelowna and Wenatchee on June 16.