05/31/09 6:18 PM ET
Modest Moyer reaches 250-win plateau
In sixth attempt, lefty becomes 44th pitcher to achieve feat
By Andy Jasner / Special to MLB.com
Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins walked to the table and proceeded to shake Moyer's hand and pour him a glass of champagne. Normally, champagne celebrations are reserved for division titles, league pennants or World Series championships.
This was clearly an exception.
The 46-year-old Moyer masterfully allowed three hits and one earned run in six strong innings as the Phillies swept the Nationals, 4-2, on Sunday at Citizens Bank Park. In his sixth try, Moyer secured his 250th career victory, joining 43 others -- including just 10 other left-handers -- in the exclusive club.
It certainly was fitting to revel in the accomplishment while sipping champagne from a bottle with "250" scripted on the front.
"It's hard to believe, because you just don't see it that often from guys so late in their career, post-30 or 35 [years old]," said closer Brad Lidge, who picked up his 12th save, including all three against the Nationals this weekend. "It's hard to imagine doing it. He's one of the guys that you really want to watch throw."
Moyer is the ultimate team player, and doesn't get caught up in individual achievements.
Still, Moyer reached the 250-win plateau while moving into 44th place, one behind Bob Gibson with 251 on the all-time wins list. Among active pitchers, Moyer ranks third, trailing San Francisco's Randy Johnson (299). Moyer is the oldest pitcher to win his 250th game at 46 years and 194 days.
Active win leaders
No. of wins
|John Smoltz**||210||Red Sox|
|Tim Wakefield||184||Red Sox|
|* Free agent|
** Currently on DL
"I really haven't thought about it," said Moyer, who is in his 23rd Major League season. "For me, it takes so much effort to prepare and to play. I've been taught to play the game as a team and not as an individual. That's really how I approach things."
In his sixth attempt at the milestone, Moyer stayed in control, allowing just three hits and no walks, which had been a problem. One of those hits, off the bat of Josh Willingham, traveled beyond the left-field wall for a solo home run, but otherwise, no runners advanced past first base. Moyer struck out four, throwing 62 of 102 pitches (60.8 percent) for strikes.
Backup catcher Chris Coste, who was given a rare start in place of Carlos Ruiz, said he didn't even know about Moyer's feat until after the game.
"I had really forgotten all about it until after the game," Coste said. "I haven't gotten to play a lot, so this was a chance to play. Maybe it was good, because I didn't feel any pressure."
Moyer had been through slumps before, like his previous five starts. How about the time he went 1-2 with a 9.60 ERA -- 16 earned runs in 15 innings -- from Aug. 12-24, 2007, and also the span from July 2-16, 2007, when he was 0-3 with a 10.06 ERA -- 19 earned runs in 17 innings?
All-time winningest lefties
|Jamie Moyer beat the Nationals to become the 11th left-hander in MLB history to record his 250th victory.|
There have been plenty of other tough times throughout his 23 years. Whenever Moyer would go through a rough patch, he would watch film of one of his best starts.
This was certainly one of those terrific outings and a testament to his endurance and inner strength.
"[Moyer's] 250 wins is ... I don't know that I have to tell you, that's quite a few," manager Charlie Manuel said.
Cole Hamels was the Most Valuable Player in last year's National League Championship Series and World Series. For him, watching Moyer reach 250 career wins was also a huge thrill.
"For me, just to be a part of it was special," Hamels said. "It was a great event to see how to pitch against a very good hitting team and how to approach it. It really does show his mental toughness."
Getting some offensive support doesn't hurt, either.
The Phillies produced runs in the first two innings. After Shane Victorino walked, Chase Utley smacked a double into the right-center-field gap. Victorino motored around the bases, but was originally ruled out at the plate -- until umpire Dana DeMuth, realizing that Nationals catcher Josh Bard did not hang onto the ball, reversed his call.
One inning later, Coste connected with a 2-0 fastball for his second home run of the season to put Philadelphia ahead by two.
Then, with runners on the corners and one out in the fourth, Pedro Feliz hit what could have been an inning-ending double play. But Jayson Werth slid hard into second base to break it up, allowing Raul Ibanez, who had tripled, to score the Phillies' third run.
Willingham homered again -- this time off right-handed reliever Clay Condrey to lead off the seventh and cut the lead to 3-2 -- but Washington could not pull even.
Not on this day, when Moyer etched his name into the record books. For the unassuming lefty, helping the Phils register the sweep and move a season-high eight games above .500 was more meaningful than his 250th career victory.
"I was looking for some consistency," Moyer said. "I wasn't concerned with the win beside my name as much as the win beside the Phillies' name."
Andy Jasner is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.