Wakefield notches 2,000th strikeout

Wakefield notches 2,000th strikeout

BOSTON -- Not only did Tim Wakefield get a spot a start on Wednesday, but he notched a milestone along the way. When he struck out Blue Jays center fielder Vernon on -- what else? -- a knuckleball, it was No. 2,000 in his career.

The 43-year-old Wakefield is the fourth active pitcher to have 2,000 strikeouts. The others are Jamie Moyer (Phillies), Andy Pettitte and Javier Vazquez of the Yankees.

"I'm very proud of that," Wakefield said after Boston's 3-2 loss. "It's a tribute to longevity and I feel very blessed I've been able to wear this uniform for a long time and I've been able to accomplish 2,000 strikeouts."

Wakefield struck out Wells to end the fourth inning, and his milestone was displayed on the center-field scoreboard, prompting roars from the Fenway faithful. A member of the Red Sox since 1995, Wakefield doffed his cap to the crowd. Wakefield also got a big ovation in his previous start at Fenway, a solid performance against the Orioles on April 25.

"It's phenomenal," said Wakefield. "The fans have been behind me the whole time I've been here. I'm very proud to be able to come out and not only get an ovation for an accomplishment, [but] for a great start like my last one. They acknowledge great work. I'm honored to be able to tip my cap to them."

The right-hander was making his fifth start of the season. He gave up five hits and three runs over seven innings, walking one and striking out five. Wakefield was recently supplanted from the rotation to make room for Daisuke Matsuzaka, who was coming off the disabled list. Wakefield made Wednesday's start on Wednesday in place of Josh Beckett. Originally, the Red Sox slotted Wakefield in just to buy the struggling Beckett an extra couple of days of side work. But the move was even a better fit when Beckett came down with back spasms.

Whether or not Wakefield stays in the rotation for one more turn depends on Beckett's recovery.

Before his move to the bullpen a couple of weeks ago, Wakefield had worked exclusively as a starter since the 2003 season, save for a couple of cameo performances in the bullpen.

"It's been very difficult," Wakefield said. "Obviously it's a situation that I don't want to be in. I'm not happy about it, but it is what it is and I have to deal with it."

Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.