Tuesday, September 13, 2011
Tim Wakefield Finally Reaches Milestone, Notches 200th Win
Jonathan Papelbon "congratulates" Tim Wakefield on joining the 200-win club
Since winning his 199th game on July 24 against Seattle, Tim Wakefield made a record eight attempts to reach 200. That marked a span of more than seven weeks in which Wakefield went winless.
But the eighth time proved to be a charm, as the Red Sox offense pounded out 18 runs in support of the knuckleballer.
Wakefield becomes just the 89th pitcher since 1900 to reach 200 career wins. And he is just the fifth player to do so in a Red Sox uniform, joining Curt Schilling (2006), Luis Tiant (1978), Fergie Jenkins (1976) and Lefty Grove (1934).
The oldest active player in the majors, at 45 years, 42 days, the 19-year veteran is also the second oldest pitcher to ever record 200 victories, behind Jack Quinn, who was 46 years, 339 days.
It's been a season of milestones for Wakefield, who became just the second pitcher in Red Sox history to record 2,000 Ks back in July. At this point, he may be getting used to making history.
Last year, Wakefield became the oldest pitcher to ever step on the mound for the Sox and the oldest to ever win a game for them.
However, in recent years, it's been a bit of a crapshoot every time Wakefield takes the mound.
When Wakefield throws his knuckleball, even he has absolutely no idea where it's going to end up after it leaves his hand. There are always an assortment of wild pitches and passed balls when Wakefield is on the hill.
Last season, Wakefield went 4-10 and posted a 5.34 ERA. The Sox were 6-13 in games he started. This year, he's 7-6, with a 5.13 ERA.
While the last few years have been a struggle, Wakefield has always given the Red Sox everything he has.
Wakefield's long career has been marked by competitiveness more than greatness; his 4.41 career ERA is the highest of any pitcher to ever win 200 games.
A former Roberto Clemente Award winner, Wakefield has been a gracious and giving member the Boston community, as well as a great teammate. He has done everything the Red Sox have ever asked of him: start, short relief, long relief... whatever.
But the reality is that he's had just four 15-win seasons in his 17 years with the Red Sox. His 200 wins are a testament to his grittiness and rock-solid determination more than anything else. After all, this is a man who has built a two-decade career based on just one pitch.
A seasoned veteran, Wakefield has given the Sox 21 starts this season, which is more than anyone could have imagined. Yet, the guy has gotten little help from his teammates along the way — not that you'll ever him complain about it.
If the Sox had played well behind him, it's not a stretch to imagine that he could have won half his starts and posted at least 10 victories by now.
This is how the Red Sox bullpen performed in Wakefield's no-decisions between his 199th and 200th wins:
Clearly, Wakefield deserved better. But nothing has ever come easy for him.
The last time Wakefield had a season in which he posted an ERA below 4.00 was in 2002, when it was 2.81.
Wakefield's career has not been marked by greatness, but rather by great effort and a passionate commitment to the Red Sox.
Consequently, there is no one else Red Sox fans would rather root for, or see reach yet another milestone.