If Roy Halladay is still pitching when he’s 47, he’ll sound like Jamie Moyer – although he’ll need to work on the glibness.
“I’ve been around a lot of great players in my career – guys with 5,000 strikeouts, winning 300 games or hitting 600 home runs – 2,131 [Cal Ripken’s consecutive games streak]– I mean, you talk about distractions,” Moyer said Sunday, after becoming the 40th pitcher in major-league history to surpass 4,000 career innings en route to an 11-2 thumping of the Toronto Blue Jays.
“For me, I have to stay focused because whether it’s the media, coaching staff or front office – whatever it is – as soon as you have a bad game or week or month, you’re too old. I mean it in a respectful way. I mean it’s great to pass people and the innings thing and all that but that’s personal, know what I mean?”
The win, in front of a crowd of 42,571 in the rubber match of a three-game interleague series moved to Philadelphia from Toronto because of security concerns arising from the Group of 20 Summit, was the 267th of Moyer’s career. In the process, Moyer gave up a two-run home run to Vernon Wells that was the 506th allowed of his career, the most of any pitcher in baseball history, surpassing Robin Roberts. The Phillies retrieved the ball for him, and Moyer said he might “burn it” or “let the dog play with it,” before settling on “giving it to one of my kids.”
Wells was aware of the homer’s significance, but did not see the humour in it. “I knew about it going in,” said Wells, who has 19 homers and is close to his pace of 2003 and 2006 when he hit 33 and 32 homers, respectively. “But, it really doesn’t matter from our side.”
Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston decried his team’s four errors – three seasons to the day when they last had a four-error game – saying: “We all stunk today.”
Second baseman Aaron Hill was charged with two of the errors, including a dropped toss from Alex Gonzalez on what could have been an inning-ending double play in the fourth that led to two unearned runs. Not all the pain was self-inflicted, though: A blown call by first base umpire Joe West, with one out in the seventh, set in motion a four-run inning. Ryan Howard was clearly out at first base on a throw from Gonzalez, but West didn’t see it that way. Gonzalez’s error was one of three committed in the inning by the Blue Jays.
West walked by Gaston at the end of the game.
“No, I didn’t say anything to him,” said Gaston, who was put off by the question and returned to it a few seconds later, adding: “I don’t get into it with you guys [the press]with the umpires, so that’s not a good question to me.”
Jays starter Brett Cecil (7-5) gave up 10 hits, striking out five and walking one in 4 2/3 innings, and is 0-3 (9.19 earned run average) over his past three starts after winning five consecutive.
Moyer’s win was his 103rd since turning 40, tying Jack Quinn but still 18 in back of career-leader Phil Niekro. His career win total is one back of Jim Palmer, who is 34th on the career list, and one back of Burleigh Grimes and Mike Mussina, who are tied with 270.
“I’m quite proud of being able to pitch 4,000 innings,” Moyer said. “I didn’t know where I was exactly, but I knew I was close.”
Moyer tied his season high with seven strikeouts and since allowing nine earned runs in an inning on June 11 against the Boston Red Sox, he is 3-0 and has given up five earned runs in 23 innings. He is 9-6 this year, and when he was asked if he thought he was having one of his best seasons – since winning 21 games in 2003, his best season was a 16-win 2008 - he said: “Not necessarily just yet. Come talk to me in September or October.” Okay, how about one of your best first halves?
“No,” he said. “There’s always room for improvement.”