By Maureen Mullen
CSNNE.com Follow @maureenamullen
BOSTON After the game, his 200th career win safely in the record books, Tim Wakefield acknowledged there were times when he thought this one might not actually happen.
It did cross my mind after six or seven starts, said Wakefield, who made seven unsuccessful attempts at No. 200 since his last win on July 24. But I kept telling myself the milestone doesnt determine me as a person. Ive always said Ive been grateful to wear this uniform as long as I have, and been very fortunate to live out a dream I had as a kid. Im just grateful it happened tonight and very grateful it happened in front of our home crowd. The standing ovation I got when I walked off the mound in the fifth and sixth, and to be able to go back out after the game was over and share it with the people that were here, was very special.
Wakefields first win came July 31, 1992, against the Cardinals, while with the Pirates. Just 14 of his wins were with Pittsburgh, his home for the first two seasons of his 19-year career. He joined the Sox in 1995 after going 5-15 for Buffalo, the Pirates Triple-A squad, in 1994.
I was just happy to have a job after that year in 94, he said. I went to spring training and I was 5-15 in Triple A. I went into spring training with the Pirates that year and getting released after one start. I was very grateful that former Sox general manager Dan Duquette called me and wanted to sign me.
It was difficult for him to describe his emotions after the win, an 18-6 shellacking of the Blue Jays at Fenway Park.
Theyre just setting in right now, he said. Im grateful that, one, its over with; two, that it was able to happen here in Fenway Park in front if our home crowd and going outside and seeing the signs and all the people and my teammates came out in support. It says a lot about everything thats gone on in my career and tonight. Im kind of speechless when it comes to that.
Im very grateful that I was able to wear this uniform as long as I have and reach the milestone that I thought Id never reach. Just very grateful.
His team was grateful, too. The win came at a desperately needed time for the Sox, who had lost five in a row, six of seven on the recent road trip, and seven of eight.
It was great, said Dustin Pedroia, who went 4-for-5 with two home runs. Weve been trying to help Wakefield win his 200th for a while, but we gave him run support and he went out there, last few innings he settled in and did a great job. Were all so proud of him. Its pretty unbelievable what hes been able to accomplish.
Wakefield gave up five runs on two home runs over the first three innings before settling down to retire 11 of the final 13 batters he faced. He went six innings, giving up five runs on six hits and two walks with six strikeouts, two home runs and a hit batter.
The significance of the night was obviously very special, said manager Terry Francona. He gave up some runs early, our bats came alive. I thought going out for the sixth inning at the time was important. He had a nice quick sixth.
Its kind of neat to see the way the guys responded to Wake in the clubhouse and the way the fans responded to Wake on the field. I thought that was pretty appropriate and probably only in a place like Boston would you see something like that happen.
Im just so happy for him, said catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Its an honor for me to be able to be back there and catch him, get that 200th win, and be a part of history. But also to see what hes done in his career, pitch as long as hes pitched, and be able to finally get this. it makes you feel good. It gives you goosebumps. After we scored a few runs I had goosebumps the rest of the game.
Wakefield now has other milestones on his radar, including 192 wins with the Red Sox, which would tie him for the franchise record with Cy Young and Roger Clemens. He now has 186 wins with the Sox.
Thats the next goal, Wakefield said. The most important thing right now is doing my work and getting ready for my next start and try to push us into the postseason. That was everybodys goal in the spring to make it to the postseason and win another World Series. Im grateful to take a lot of pressure off my teammates and I know theyve been feeling it. But nows the time to concentrate on winning as many games as we can and getting to October.
Maureen Mullen is on Twitter at http:twitter.commaureenamullen.