Braves closer Billy Wagner became the all-time leader in strikeouts by a left-handed reliever Friday night, but he wanted no part in any celebration of it in a 7-1 loss to the Marlins.
Wagner reached 1,170 strikeouts for his career by striking out Mike Stanton for the first out of the ninth inning to pass Jesse Orosco.
But when his accomplishment was listed on the video board and umpire Tim McClellan tried to stop the game, with catcher David Ross motioning for Wagner to throw in the ball, he refused.
“I said ‘We’re getting our (butts) kicked, it’s raining, let’s go,” said Wagner, who was in the game only to get some work in because he hadn’t pitched in a week. “It’s stupid. Who in their right mind makes a big deal out of doing something they’re supposed to do in the first place? I’m out there pitching in a (bad) game; we’re getting our butt kicked. It’s not worth it to make a big deal out of that. That’s embarrassing.”
Wagner kept pitching with that ball while walking Logan Morrison. Then at one point, the next batter – Hanley Ramirez – fouled the ball down the left field line. Wagner picked it up and tossed his milestone ball into the crowd.
Unbeknownst to him, the Braves clubhouse crew got his ball back to give to him. While Wagner couldn’t appreciate his feat on Friday, his manager Bobby Cox thinks it’s a pretty important one.
“I think it’s big,” Cox said. “It may never be broken again.”