Sunday, June 19, 2011
When Wakefield maxed out
By Gordon Edes
BOSTON -- Tim Wakefield, who is pitching Sunday, has made 11 starts against the Milwaukee Brewers. He lost his first two, within a two-week span at the end of the 1995 season, but is 5-0 with four no-decisions since. He last faced the Brewers on May 17, 2008, when he allowed three earned runs in 5 1/3 innings and was not involved in the decision in a 7-6 Sox win.
But the most memorable start Wakefield made against the Brewers, and one that ranks among the most notable of his career, came on June 5, 1997, in Milwaukee, when he threw a staggering 169 pitches while lasting 8 2/3 innings in a 2-1 Sox win. Kerry Lacy recorded the last out for his first career save.
Wakefield struck out a career-high 10 batters and walked seven in that game. Newspaper reports the next day said he threw 168 pitches, but evidently the official tally added one more pitch, as 169 is the number listed by baseball-reference.com. Wakefield told reporters afterward that he didn't have his best knuckleball that day so he threw more curves and (ahem) fastballs than usual, throwing the knuckler only 75 percent of the time. According to the accounts of the game, Wakefield made little mention of his pitch count.
Jimy Williams, who was managing at the time, said, "I never asked what the pitch count was.''
That was only the second-most pitches Wakefield has thrown in his career. On April 27, 1993, while with Pittsburgh, he threw 172 in 10 innings in a 6-2 win over the Braves. Those two games rank as most pitches thrown by any pitcher in a game since 1989, when Orel Hershiser threw 169 in 11 innings.