Tim Wakefield returned to his locker last night to find his name tag gone. The number 2,777 was there instead.
That’s the number of innings Wakefield has pitched for the Red Sox, a new team record. He passed Roger Clemens (2,776) tonight. Fella named Cy Young is third.
Wakefield also received a bottle of champagne and he shared a toast with his teammates and made sure to thank the coaches as well.
“Those guys have always been behind me, John Farrell, Tito. Regardless of the results, it’s hard to not take the human factor into this,” he said. “Even those we are all baseball players and there so many statistics involved, I think relationships come into effect and I have a lot of respect for those guys. I went in there and made sure I thanked them first, It means a lot.”
This has not been the easiest season for Wakefield. He was sent to the bullpen for a stretch then returned to the rotation when Josh Beckett went on the disabled list. He has had days when he has looked very good — as was the case tonight — and others when he has looked pretty bad.
But pitching the most innings for a team like the Red Sox is an accomplishment that will stand the test of history.
“It’s special because I had a pretty close relationship when [Clemens] was here. He kind of took me under his wing and showed me how to work hard and never give up. He showed me his work ethic. Just to be mentioned in that kind of company or to be able to pass a guy like Roger, who’s a first-ballot Hall of Famer in my opinion, is very special,” Wakefield said.
“I’m very honored and humbled at the same time to be able to last as long as I have to be able to pass some numbers he put up.”
Wakefield is third among active pitchers in innings pitched, trailing only Jamie Moyer and Andy Pettitte. He is 131st all-time.
A cynic would say that that’s only a sign of longevity. But do not dismiss longevity. To pitch that many innings for a team that is usually in contention is remarkable. It means that the manager had faith to send you out there. It’s not like a team like the Red Sox lacks the means to find somebody else.
“I think the word is tenacity,” Terry Francona said
That’s a good word. What Wakefield did registered in the clubhouse, too.
“I’m happy for him. It’s a special thing and Wake’s a special guy,” said Daniel Bard, who secured the win in the ninth inning. “He will be remembered for a long time, also for what he’s done off the field for the organization. It’s pretty cool to be able to witness that.”
The Sox are now 35-25. You get to 10 games over .500 then you shoot for 15 and keep climbing steps. Boston has won eight of its last 10 and is now 17-11 on the road.
Thanks for reading the blog today. Back at it tomorrow.