Tim Wakefield celebrated his 41st birthday in style.
With his victory over the Orioles today, Wakefield became just the third pitcher in the Red Sox 107-year history to win 150 games. The veteran knuckleballer joins Cy Young and Roger Clemens, each with 192 wins, as the only pitchers in the franchise's storied history to achieve the feat.
Now 13-9, Wakefield is within four wins of his career high and has a legitimate shot at 20 wins this year. With the victory his ERA also dropped to 4.55. Wakefield is on a roll. He won his third consecutive start and sixth out of seven, becoming just the sixth pitcher since 1980 to get a decision in his first 22 starts to begin a season.
The longest tenured Red Sox player, Wakefield has certainly had his ups and downs over 13 seasons with the club. Though he will undoubtedly finish his career in third place on he team's all-time wins list, Wakefield already owns the record for most losses (131) in club history. But he has established himself as an innings eater by pitching at least 200 innings in five seasons, and 195 in another.
Wakefield's 464 games are second in team history to Bob Stanley's 637, and his 327 starts are second to Clemens' 382. But he has also given up more runs, earned runs, and home runs than any other pitcher in club history -- by rather wide margins. He is also the team's all-time leader in walks.
So the record is a mixed one for Wakefield. Ultimately, his place in the team's record book is a testament to his longevity more than his greatness. If you stick around long enough, the numbers start piling up -- for better or for worse. But winning 150 games is quite an accomplishment, and Wakefield should be praised and congratulated for all he's done for the Red Sox over the years.
With a career total of 164 wins between the Pirates and Red Sox, if he can pitch another two seasons -- a scenario that may seem unlikely -- Wakefield has an outside shot at 200 career victories.
Before this season is over, Wakefield (1644) may pass Pedro Martinez (1683) and move into second place on the Sox career strike out list, where he will trail only Clemens (2590).
So enjoy what's left of Wakefield's rollercoaster-like ride with the Sox. At 41, and on a revolving, year-to-year contract, this won't go on much longer. You won't find an athlete who does more more for his community, or who gets more praise from his teammates, than Tim Wakefield.
Thanks for all you've done Tim, both on and off the field. And congratulations on an impressive accomplishment.
Copyright © 2007 Sean M. Kennedy. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without the author's consent.