Sometimes I hate being right. This is one of those times. Just as the Cardinals won 3 of 4 and breathed some life into the sails of USS PLAYOFF HOPE, they whiff 9 times against Chris Narveson and lose 4-2 to Milwaukee.
That hurts. Cincinnati lost to Colorado, so gaining another game in the standings was right there for the taking. Not to be, folks; not to be. The Reds’ magic number moved to 20. Six back with 26 to play. Not seeing it.
But enough of the Cardinals woes. Trevor Hoffman closed out the game, and in the process earned his 600th save. Wherever you fall on the ‘is the save a valuable stat’ spectrum, doing anything 600 times is pretty impressive. Especially when it means you’ve performed at a high level for many, many years to achieve that total. I had the pleasure of watching Trevor Hoffman pitch on numerous occasions during my sojourn on the Left Coast, back during his golden age, when his fastball sat the mid-90s and his change-up was unhittable. Through it all, Trevor Hoffman remained a gentleman, a quiet star, and by all accounts, a genuinely good guy.
If there’s one silver lining to last night’s loss, it’s that Hoffman became the first man to save 600 games.
Hoffman has not been very good this season by any measure. He lost the closer’s role in May and has pitched sporadically since. Most likely he will retire after this season; his contract contains a $7M club option for 2011, but most expect the Brewers will pay Hoffman $500K and buy it out. He’s never complained about any of it. In fact, the Milwaukee news media has reported he took nascent closer John Axford under his wing, teaching him what he had learned over the course of his two decades closing out games in the big leagues. How many guys today would do that?
So despite the fact that save #600 put another nail in the coffin of the 2010 Cardinals’ playoff hopes, I cannot help but smile that Trevor Hoffman reached yet another milestone.
Congratulations, Trevor Hoffman – for save #600, and for a brilliant career.