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Monday, July 25, 2011

Tim Wakefield Records 2,000th Red Sox Strikeout

To show that I'm not completely insensitive to round numbers, I will now attempt to write more words about Tim Wakefield striking out 2,000 hitters as a Red Sock than I wrote about Derek Jeter's 3,000th hit. And that should do it. See, my 40-ish word summation of Jeter's accomplishment was less about hating on him or the Yankees and more about our weird pedestaling of round numbers.

Well, obviously, 3,000 hits is more significant than 2,000 strikeouts with one team but the fans of round numbers were on their feet and clapping like circus seals Sunday night after Wakefield struck out Matt Carp (Adam Dunn struck out watching the highlight). Wake joins Roger Clemens as the only two pitchers to record 2,000 strikeouts as Red Sox. It only took the knuckelballer four more seasons (17-13) in Beantown to get to that meaningless number.

Much like Clemens, Wakefield also racked up some K numbers outside of Boston. He recorded 210 in Pittsburgh for 2,210 so far in his career. Clemens dabbled in a few more cities and finished with 4,672 strikeouts so you can see the similarities between the two.

Boston manager Terry Francona wasn't even sure how to handle such a monumental milestone...
“So not quite sure how to react to that,’’ Francona said. “I was thrilled people were showing their appreciation. I just kind of sit there and say, ‘I’ll shake his hand when he comes out.’ ’’

That happened in the seventh, when Wakefield gave up four consecutive hits, capped by Ryan’s second career slam. Still, it didn’t stop the crowd from treating Wakefield to another standing ovation.

“I’d like to have that seventh inning back,’’ said Wakefield, who acknowledged it was difficult to collect himself after all the adulation over the 2,000th strikeout. “I was very fortunate that we were able to score 12 runs today, which made it a lot easier."
Not exactly the dominant performance you'd expect from such a highly skilled strikeout artist. Oh well. Wakefield will have a chance for another standing ovation soon as he's sitting at 199 career wins. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to attempt my 200th nap of the season, joining other legends Connie Mack, Garfield and Andy Capp.

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