10/05/06 8:36 PM ET
Padres go to Wells, but come up dry
Lefty solid, but not enough in what could be final start of career
By Amanda Branam / MLB.com
"How do I want to be remembered if this is my last game?" Wells said. "Gamer. Bottom line. And I think that you can, if you were to go to any hitter, you know, that I've played against from day one until today, they would say, 'That guy went out there and gave it his all and challenged guys.'"You don't get over 200 wins for pitching around guys. You've got an opportunity to get an out on a good pitch, you might as well do it." Wells has done just that for his 19 big-league seasons, and in his seven previous trips to the postseason, he compiled a 10-4 record with a 3.15 ERA in 16 starts. Not only was Wells big in big games, he has a personality as big as his 6-foot-3, 248-pound frame to match it. Cardinals manager Tony La Russa, in the visitor's dugout for this NLDS, has seen Wells from the beginning of his impressive career. "I remember when he was young and crazy in Toronto," La Russa said. "And then I've watched him mature over the years, and he's still -- he's got a lot of life, but early on, you know, he had a lot of talent and a little wild and woolly, but he's a better pitcher than people thought.
"Over the years, he's become a good pitcher. He has a feel for what he does out there. That postseason record is no accident. He's got a lot of cool."There's not many that bold in that way, pitcher or personality." La Russa's team narrowly got the better of Wells on Thursday, and the crafty left-hander knows the time to hang up the cleats and spend more time with his family at his San Diego residence grows closer and closer by the day. His Padres are in an uphill climb, needing to win two in a row in St. Louis and then Game 5 in San Diego to allow the man they call "Boomer" another go-around. "On the other end of that, this could be my last game," Wells said. "I hope not. Hopefully, we can rebound from this, and come back and get another opportunity to pitch.
"I'd like to ride off into the sunset with a smile, not with a grin and say, 'What if?' It's something that I've been around a long time, and you know it's eventually going to come to an end.
"So it would be nice to go out on top."
Amanda Branam is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.