Jewish pitchers Kremer and Fried have rare off days

Orioles' Israeli rookie still happy with first taste in majors • Atlanta ace twists ankle in final start before playoffs.

JEWISH PRIDE was certainly on display this year among pro baseball players, with Dean Kremer pitching for the Baltimore Orioles with a Star of David necklace flying. (photo credit: BALTIMORE ORIOLES/COURTESY)
JEWISH PRIDE was certainly on display this year among pro baseball players, with Dean Kremer pitching for the Baltimore Orioles with a Star of David necklace flying.
(photo credit: BALTIMORE ORIOLES/COURTESY)
In one of the most unusual seasons in Major League Baseball history, a rare occurrence took place this week, as two Jewish pitchers were simultaneously handed the ball to start for their respective teams.
Baltimore Orioles phenom Dean Kremer, coming off three impressive outings against the playoff-bound New York Yankees (twice) and Tampa Bay Rays, took the mound at tradition-rich Fenway Park against the Boston Red Sox for his final start of 2020.
Meanwhile, in Atlanta, Cy Young candidate Max Fried got the nod in what should have been a tune-up for his planned start in the Braves’ postseason opener next week.
Both hurlers entered their respective games in top form, with each undefeated and holding a stingy sub-2.00 ERA.
Kremer, at 1-0, could easily have won all three of his starts, allowing just one run in each of his appearances while striking out 20 batters in only 16 innings. Fried, 7-0, had been the Braves anchor, praised in the pregame show for having “put the team on his back” in its successful bid for a postseason berth.
However, the good karma lasted less than one inning for each pitcher. Fried looked sharp as he retired the first two batters, the second on the dazzling play in which Max athletically fielded Starling Marte‘s bunt and twirled to catch the speedster at first. Unfortunately, Fried turned his ankle on the play.
A hint that something was wrong came quickly, as Fried immediately gave up back-to-back-homers – the first dingers he had allowed all year – followed by a hard-hit double.
While Fried wanted to gut it out, it was obvious that nobody was going to take a chance before next week's wildcard series
Fortunately for Fried and the Braves, the preliminary indications are good, but he will undergo further evaluations. A small measure of comfort for Fried was seeing his team storm back to beat Miami 9-4, thus preventing a loss which would have ruined a perfect record this season.
In Boston, it was a different yet no happier story, as Kremer gave up two first-inning runs and didn’t make it out of the third inning. The Israeli-American left after allowing seven runs and seeing his ERA balloon from 1.64 to 4.82.
Still, this outing didn't take away from the fact that Kremer has impressed everyone in Baltimore and earned himself a place in the O’s 2021 rotation.
Looking ahead to next year, Orioles Manager Brandon Hyde said: “I’m excited about Dean. I think Dean has a big upside.”
Kremer himself said after the game that he is "pretty happy with how I got to dip my toe in the water, and I’m excited for next year.”
Indeed, Kremer has proven himself both on the field and off.
After his previous start, when asked what he might say to the young players in Israel hoping to be the “next Dean Kremer” he told them to “work hard and take advantage of the great coaching available to them here with Alon [Leichman] and Assaf [Lowengart].
Team Israel GM Peter Kurz remembers Kremer for his intelligence, humility and great attitude – Kremer represented Israel several times, most recently in the 2017 World Baseball Classic – and would love to see both Kremer and Fried in blue-and-white uniforms in the future.
Also, Israeli and Jewish fans everywhere took great pride seeing Kremer's Magen David (which he wears under his jersey) slip into view while firing to the last batter in his second game.
Baseball mavens are invited to RSVP with any other combinations over the last half century of two Jewish pitchers starting on the same day.
Interestingly exactly 54 years ago, not only did two Jewish pitchers start on the same day, but the very two who are routinely considered the greatest Jewish starters of all time even faced each other in arguably the greatest showdown of Jewish aces ever.
On September 25, 1966, with the Dodgers in a pennant race, Ken Holtzman started for the horrific Cubs and outdueled Sandy Koufax in a tight 2-1 pitchers' duel with both hurlers throwing complete games!
As it turned out, this was the only time that fate would present an opportunity for Koufax to face Holtzman, who was destined to overtake the Dodgers’ legend as the all-time Jewish wins leader (174 for Holtzman to 165 for Koufax). Locals may also recall that Holtzman went on to manage the Petah Tikva Pioneers in 2006 in the short-lived IBL.
 Ian Kinsler posing with a shofar on his recent trip to Israel to get citizenship. Ian Kinsler posing with a shofar on his recent trip to Israel to get citizenship.
*One final note as we prepare for the final blowing of the ram’s horn this week on Yom Kippur: ‘Shofar so good’ for Team Israel's most recent Olympic team member, four-time MLB All-Star Ian Kinsler in Jerusalem in March when he made aliyah. May 5781 bring us all health, happiness and a baseball Olympic medal!