In his 19 seasons in the majors, Tim Wakefield has played with and against thousands of players. He picked up his first win when uniforms were tight and mullets were not a punchline. He picked up many more during the steroid era. He is tracking down the all-time leaders in the illustrious history of the Red Sox franchise. And now, as his 45th birthday approaches, is setting his sights on a major milestone accomplished by just 110 players in the long history of this game.
With 200 victories in sight, here’s a look back on some of his milestone wins along the way, and his reactions to each one:
No. 1 – July 31, 1992, 3-2 win vs. St. Louis.
In his major league debut, Wakefield allowed just two unearned runs in nine innings, striking out 10. It was the first of 32 career complete games, four of which came in that rookie season. Barry Bonds and Jay Bell homered to give Wakefield all the runs he would need.
“I had relatives and friends here from Florida, D.C., North Carolina, they were all here for the big debut,” Wakefield said after the game. “I’m glad I could stick around long enough to give them something to see. Really, I wasn’t nervous except for the first pitch. I just stepped off the mound and looked around and saw Andy Van Slyke in center and Barry Bonds in left and Chico Lind at second…That always makes a pitcher feel better.”
No. 100 – August 11, 2002, 3-1 win vs. Minnesota
Wakefield spent much of that year in the bullpen before being moved to the rotation near the end of July. He proceeded to go 7-2 with a 2.01 ERA in 11 starts down the stretch, including this eight-inning, one-run gem at Fenway Park, after which he gave credit to his manager, Grady Little, for getting him back in a starting role.
“It’s been a lot easier this season because of Grady,” Wakefield said. “He has confidence in me to either start or relieve. In years past I was shunned to the bullpen — for what reason, I don't know.”
No. 125 – August 18, 2004, 6-4 win vs. Toronto
Spotted an early 4-0 lead, Wakefield cruised through eight innings, allowing two runs on five hits. It was early in a remarkable 26-5 run that lifted the Red Sox post-Nomar to the wild card. We all know what happened next.
“We had a great homestand here and I think it’s going to give us some momentum going into this road trip,” Wakefield said. The club would go 6-1 on the road trip, pulling into a tie for the wild card lead.
No. 150 – July 1, 2005, 11-5 win at Florida.
Manny Ramirez had a three-run shot in the first and a solo shot in the sixth. David Ortiz hammered two solo homers and an RBI double. Wakefield gave up three runs in 5 2/3 innings.
“I’m just very fortunate that David and Manny had a huge night for us tonight,” he said.
No. 175 – August 6, 2008, 8-2 win at Kansas City.
The Royals took measures to prepare for Wakefield, having knucklers thrown at them in batting practice. Wakefield then went out and gave up just one earned run on four measly hits in six innings.
“It’s happened before,” he said of the ploy utilized by Kansas City. “When I faced the Braves in ‘92, Bruce Dal Canton threw knuckleballs to the guys in batting practice.”
Wakefield was asked if it worked then.
That first instance resulted in one of those four complete games in his rookie year.
No. 199 – July 24, 2011, 12-8 win vs. Seattle
The line did not look all that great; Wakefield gave up seven runs in 6 1/3 innings. However, the last man he faced hit a grand slam, and the Sox were never really threatened.
“One step closer,” he said of the 200-win mark. “I’ve been fortunate this year to pitch as well as I have. The last couple haven’t been that great, but they’ve been good enough and I’ve been fortunate to be on a great team and to get some wins here and there.”
Powered by WordPress.com VIP