Thursday, July 07, 2011
Tim Wakefield Staking HIs Place in Red Sox History
Among active Major League pitchers, Red Sox' knuckleballer Tim Wakefield is second with 2,103 strikeouts.
Included in that total are the 110 strikeouts Wakefield recorded during his first two seasons in the Majors with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
However, the 44-year-old Wakefield, now in his 17th season with the Red Sox, is poised to become just the second pitcher in club history to record 2,000 Ks.
After fanning seven batters on Wednesday night, Wakefield sits atop 1,993 strikeouts and should reach the milestone sometime shortly after the All Star break.
The Red Sox are a team with 100-plus years of history, so Wakefield's accomplishment will be significant.
Speaking of significant, Wakefield also recorded his 184th win with the Red Sox on Wednesday night, putting him just eight behind the legendary Cy Young and Roger Clemens.
Including his two years with the Pirates, Wakefield now has 198 career victories and before the month is over could reach 200.
While it once seemed quite improbable that Wakefield would ever catch or eclipse the two Red Sox legends, it now seems imminently possible.
On Wednesday evening, Wakefield gave the Red Sox his fifth quality start of the season and posted a season-high seven strikeouts.
If he continues to pitch this effectively, Wakefield still has a half-season of baseball ahead of him — and a potent Red Sox offense behind him —— in his quest for 193 wins with the Sox.
At this point, that milestone seems entirely possible.
Having gotten this far on essentially one pitch, Wakefield is obviously a very determined man. Besides, one doesn't get too many opportunities to make history.
At present, the Red Sox are in a very unique period of team history in that three of club's Top-10 strikeout leaders are on the current roster.
While Wakefield is in second place and will retire there (he'll never match Clemens' 2,590 Ks), Josh Beckett is ninth, with 930 strikeouts, and Jon Lester is 10th, with 822 Ks.
Who knows where Beckett and Lester will end up on that list? Both pitchers are young and highly talented, so the sky seems to be the limit.
The Red Sox' record book is filled with names like Cy Young, Mel Parnell, Luis Tiant, Smokey Joe Wood and Mel Parnell — players from long ago whom many Sox fans have only heard of and never saw play.
And though players like Roger Clemens and Pedro Martinez are from more recent history, they are still history nonetheless.
However, at present, Red Sox fans of all ages can watch Tim Wakefield stake his claim to the club record book. And what a claim it is.
Wakefield is currently first in starts and innings, and second in wins, strikeouts and games.
Enjoy the moment, folks. Though he is not a Hall of Fame-caliber player, someday we'll all be able to tell our kids and grandkids that we saw the legendary Tim Wakefield pitch for the Red Sox.
Granted, Wakefield may not be a truly elite pitcher. But before his career is over he will have certainly become legendary in the annals of Red Sox history.
In fact, he already is.