Jackie Robinson Day is one of the most important days on the Major League Baseball calendar. April 15 is the day that Jackie Robinson broke the MLB’s color barrier in 1947 with the Brooklyn Dodgers.
Sunday marked the 76th anniversary of one of the most important days in North American sports history. The day is celebrated across Major League Baseball, with all players and coaches wearing No. 42 on their jerseys in honor of Robinson.
Jackie Robinson Day is extra special for the Dodgers organization. And on Sunday, West Virginia native Michael Grove not only got to wear the retired 42 on his uniform, but he got to take the mound for the very organization that Robinson made history with all those years ago.
Grove pitched well in his third start of the season. The Wheeling native pitched 5 2/3 innings, giving up just two hits, two walks, and one run against the Chicago Cubs. He also recorded a season-high six strikeouts, the second-most punchies in any start in his young big-league career.
Los Angeles won the game 2-1 on a walk-off single in the bottom of the ninth. Grove was handed a no-decision.
Maybe more than anything, what aided Grove in having a bounce-back performance from his last start was feeling healthy once again. Grove has battled strep throat, and its lasting effects, during the early part of the regular season.
Something else that aided the former WVU hurler was a good use of his improved slider, nicknamed ‘The Mountaineer.’
“It’s an adjustment we made just to lean a little bit more on the slider, and try to get these guys off the fastball as much as possible,” Grove said. “Just trusting it, and trusting the work I put in. I think I’ve been a little bit hesitant to do that, and it was just like, let’s take the training wheels off a little bit and see how it does.”
Manager Dave Roberts called his slider “really good” after the game. Dodgers media members also noted that Roberts predicted Grove would have a good performance on the bump before the game.
Grove (0-1, 9.00 ERA) did himself a big favor with the performance. His start on Saturday lowered his earned run average by nearly six runs. It was also the longest start since he made his big league debut last May.
The former Mountaineer has now made 10 starts in his MLB career. He is scheduled to pitch on the road against the Cubs on Thursday, April 20.