The milestone came on a night that turned out to be a celebration of geriatic pitchers, with New York Yankees reliever Mariano Rivera earning his 600th save. Wakefield, a 45-year-old knuckleballer who’s been with the Red Sox since 1995, gave up five runs and six hits — two were home runs — and threw 96 pitches in six innings. Despite losing the lead a couple of times, he retired the Jays in order on nine pitches in the sixth and left with a 6-5 lead. The Red Sox went on to an 18-6 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays in Fenway Park.
After a 1-6 road trip, Wakefield — now the 108th pitcher to win 200 games — delivered what the Sox needed, at least for one night, and his remarkable career fell into perspective. From Dan Shaughnessy of the Boston Globe:
Wakefield is 45 years old. Older than Fenway dirt. He played with Roger Clemens and John Valentin. He pitched for the Sox in the 1995 playoffs. He pitched for Kevin Kennedy, Jimy Williams, Joe Kerrigan, Grady Little, and Francona. He was here when John Harrington said Fenway had to be torn down. He was here with Carl Everett and Wes Chamberlain. He pitched for the Sox when Nomar Garciaparra was a .370 hitter.
Wakefield is the guy who gave up the walkoff homer to Aaron Boone in 2003. That seems like a million years ago, no? Wake wondered if the gopher pitch would doom him to a lifetime in the Bill Buckner basement. But that never happened. Sox fans know a gamer when they see one and Wakefield was forgiven immediately. We made Grady the goat and Wake got back on board.
He’s Eveready Wake. He always has his spikes on. He’s always ready to bail out the team.
“I’m kind of speechless,” Wakefield said, “but I’m very grateful that I’ve been able to wear this uniform for as long as I have and reached a milestone that I thought I’d never reach.”