With homer, Varitek joins Fisk in Sox lore
Veteran catcher instrumental in Boston's win over Yankees
BOSTON -- Before Wednesday's 9-5 Red Sox win over the Yankees, the distinction belonged to another famed Red Sox catcher, albeit one who accomplished the feat in a different uniform.
Jason Varitek's 10th home run of the season, a two-run insurance shot in the eighth inning, put him in an exclusive club with Carlton Fisk. They're the only backstops in Major League history to reach double-digit homers in a season at age 39 or older.
Fisk did it five times with the White Sox, playing at least 50 percent of his games behind the dish.
"I don't know -- I mean, it's great," Varitek said when asked if he felt a personal accomplishment by notching double digits for the 11th time in his 15 seasons. "We've still got a month left. It is good -- it just helps lengthen our lineup."
The lineup needed to be lengthy to pull out Wednesday's win, and the home run wasn't Varitek's only contribution. In the midst of a six-game hit streak, he doubled in the tying run in the sixth inning and again guided Josh Beckett past the Yankees -- even if it wasn't as dominant an outing as Beckett has delivered against New York this season.
When looking at the Sox's catching combo together, there's more history to be found. Varitek's output, combined with Jarrod Saltalamacchia's career-high total of 13 homers, gives Boston a pair of catchers with at least 10 long balls for the first time in nearly a half-century. The last two to do it were Bob Tillman (14) and Jim Pagliaroni (11) in 1962.
Asked about the tag-team, Varitek toed the company line.
"You can't do it on numbers," Varitek said. "I think that our biggest job is still with our pitching staff, and it has to be. That's the reason, I think -- more so than offensively -- we are where we are."
Varitek's age can still make him susceptible to fatigue, a fact he acknowledges, but also one that he thinks doesn't diminish his value.
"You go in waves," Varitek said. "I had, for a little stint there, hit a wall. You can't control that. You still have to do your other job. Everybody does. How that's going to work out -- still, Salty's going to play the majority of the time. I'm just going to fill in when needed."