Tim Wakefield will announce his retirement during a press conference tonight, calling it quits after a 19-season career in which the knuckleballer won 200 games despite not making his big-league debut until age 25.
Red Sox president Larry Lucchino revealed last week that the team had offered Wakefield a minor-league contract with an invitation to spring training, but the 45-year-old right-hander didn’t have an obvious fit on the roster after posting a 5.12 ERA in 155 innings split between the bullpen and rotation last season.
Wakefield pitched 17 of his 19 seasons in Boston after being released by the Pirates in the spring of 1995 and has the third-most wins in Red Sox history behind Cy Young and Roger Clemens, earning $56 million along the way.
He signed a contract extension in 2006 that gave the Red Sox a perpetual team option for $4 million per season, which they picked up three times before negotiating a new deal with a lower annual salary. At the time Wakefield was 39 years old, yet he went on to throw 934 more innings with a 4.74 ERA and made his first All-Star team in 2009 at age 42.
In addition to ranking third among all Red Sox pitchers in wins, Wakefield also ranks first in starts and innings and second in games pitched and strikeouts. Not bad for a guy whose average fastball during the past decade clocked in at 74.1 miles per hour.
Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw entered Wednesday night’s start against the Marlins without having issued a walk in his previous three starts. In fact, his last walk came on April 3 when he issued a free pass to Paul Goldschmidt with the bases empty and two outs in the bottom of the first inning. All told, Kershaw was on a streak of 26 walk-less innings before he took the mound at home to take on the Marlins.
Kershaw started off Wednesday in character, striking out the side in the first inning. He issued a walk in a tough second inning, but escaped without allowing a run. Kershaw walked two more in the third and again danced out of danger. In the fourth, Kershaw walked Lewis Brinson to load the bases with no outs and — you guessed it — didn’t end up allowing a run. His errant control finally came back to bite him in the fifth when Kershaw issued back-to-back two-out walks, then served up a three-run home run to Miguel Rojas down the left field line. His night was done when he completed the inning. Five innings, three runs, five hits, six walks, seven strikeouts, 112 pitches.
The six walks Kershaw issued over five innings marked his first six-walk outing since April 7, 2010 when he issued six free passes to the Pirates in 4 2/3 innings. The only other time he walked as many was on August 3, 2009 against the Brewers in a four-plus inning outing. Kershaw hasn’t even walked five batters in an outing recently — the last time was September 23, 2012 against the Reds.