Boston Red Sox knuckleballer Tim Wakefield won his 200th big league game tonight with a 18-6 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays.
In his eighth attempt to win number 200, the 45-year old Wakefield gave up five runs on six hits over a workman like six innings. He did strike out six while walking only two. Homeruns accounted for the five runs Wakefield surrendered. He gave up a three run homerun to rookie catcher J.P. Arencibia in the second inning and then served up Jose Bautista’s league leading 42nd homerun in the third.
But the Red Sox took the lead for good in the fourth on back to back homeruns by Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia. Ellsbury and Pedroia each had four hits. Pedroia hit another homerun in the sixth and drove in five runs. But the Red Sox left nothing to chance scoring seven runs in the eighth inning.
Wakefield wasn’t the only member of the Red Sox who achieved a career milestone. Shortstop Marco Scutaro collected his 1,000th career hit.
But this was Tim Wakefield’s night. He addressed the Fenway Park crowd after the game which gave him a well deserved standing ovation. Jonathan Papelbon then doused him with a little bubbly.
Wakefield has been in a Red Sox uniform since the middle of the 1995 season. He is a team player through and through whether as a starter or a reliever. He has never wanted to pitch anywhere else. Wakefield is not only one of the most popular members of the Red Sox, he has become a pillar of the community here in Boston with his involvement in charitable endeavors.
Earlier this summer, I read Tony Massaroti’s biography of Wakefield titled Knuckler. Wakefield would probably have won his 200th game much sooner if he wasn’t called upon to take one for the team. But he’s never complained. In 1989, Wakefield was a minor league first baseman who couldn’t hit. More than two decades later, he has made a very nice big league career. And perhaps there is more to come. Wakefield needs seven more wins to become the Red Sox all-time leader in victories. Cy Young and Roger Clemens each won 192 big league games with the Bosox.
After a much needed day off, the Red Sox snapped a five game losing streak. For good measure, the Tampa Bay Rays lost 4-2 to the Baltimore Orioles allowing the Red Sox to pick up a game in the AL Wild Card standings. The Red Sox now lead the Rays by four games in the AL Wild Card. Wakefield’s triumph gave the Red Sox a lift. Perhaps they have now turned the corner.
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