06/07/07 2:39 AM ET
Milestone No. 500 for Hoffman
More subdued than past achievements, but special nonetheless
By Corey Brock / MLB.com
This goes a long way in explaining why Bocachica shot teammate Marcus Giles a very perplexed look after the eighth inning Wednesday when the San Diego second baseman informed Bocachica that he was actually glad to have stranded a runner in a close game.
"He came up to me and said he was glad we did not score anymore," Bocachica said, oblivious to the fact that he was about to bear witness to an unprecedented feat of baseball history. "He said he was glad he didn't get a hit. ... I had no idea what he was talking about."
Bocachica certainly does now, as he and his Padres teammates and the 31,541 fans stood for the 10 pitches that comprised career save No. 500 for Trevor Hoffman, which put the finishing touches, tidy bow and all, on San Diego's 5-2 victory over the Dodgers at PETCO Park.
"That's about the only time I've ever said that," Giles said afterward, standing in a busy clubhouse littered with paper cups that once held champagne. "Don't get me wrong ... I was trying to get a hit in that last at-bat, but after I realized what it saved. So that made it easier to swallow."
The Padres (35-23) certainly know how to throw a party for Hoffman and certainly have had practice at it. After all, it was only last September when Hoffman surpassed Lee Smith for most saves in Major League history (479).
By all accounts, Wednesday's postgame festivities ranked far tamer than when Hoffman eclipsed Smith's mark. Sure, there were fireworks, custom-made hats emblazoned with "500 All-Time Saves Leader" and the sight of the 39-year-old being carried off the field by his teammates.
But there was also a feeling of near bewilderment simply because Hoffman already had the career saves record and now, after working a scoreless ninth inning on Wednesday, owned a milestone that many feel might never be approached again.
"It's a special moment from an individual standpoint to be at a number that looks a little bit different than some of the other guys who have accrued a lot of saves," Hoffman said. "It's special in its own right. It's like comparing your kids. They're special in their own way. It's special to have it done at home."
And special because it came against the team that Hoffman has had more success against (58) than any other Major League team. And while it's still June, it's certainly never too early to play well against the Dodgers (34-25), who figure to be hanging around right up until the final days of September.
But such divisional bravado took a backseat to Hoffman's night Wednesday, as did Greg Maddux's 338th career victory and the combined five RBIs of two players who could attribute their mere presence in the starting lineup to two other players sidelined with an achy arm and a bum knee.
Bocachica, playing right field for Brian Giles (knee), had two doubles and drove in a run while Geoff Blum proved a capable fill-in for Khalil Greene (arm) at shortstop by driving in a season-high four runs.
"I've said it all along, it's going to take all 25 guys and in upwards to 35 guys to get this thing done," Padres manager Bud Black said. "It's going to take all of us and that is the great thing. It's going to be a collective effort. It's not going to be one pitcher, one bat."
But all anyone really wanted to talk about after the game was one pitcher -- and it wasn't Maddux, who like Hoffman figures to have a place in Cooperstown when his career is over. The right-hander allowed two runs on five hits over 6 1/3 innings, although he was much more wrapped up in Hoffman's big night than his own.
"I felt like I had a chance to witness history," Maddux said. "I've seen quite a few things in baseball but I've never seen anyone save 500 games. For me, it was cool. He's a class act, a class guy. It's nice to see the good guys get rewarded for something like that."
Black, the Padres first-year manager, has only been around to see 18 of those 500 saves, though he's gaining a better appreciation each day for Hoffman and what he means to this franchise. He counts himself lucky to be a part of it.
"He's passed the test of time and done a job like no other -- the number of saves that he's gotten, he's set a standard," Black said. "When we were looking at the lineup card after the game, it just looked right to have Maddux as the starting pitcher and Trevor getting the save."
Corey Brock is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.