Moyer pitches himself into record books

Moyer pitches himself into record books

Moyer pitches himself into record books
DENVER -- To become the oldest pitcher in Major League history to win a game in the Rockies' 5-3 decision over the Padres on Tuesday night, Rockies left-hander Jamie Moyer turned over the most significant decision of the game to a catcher born nearly three years after his Major League debut.

Moyer faced the Padres' Jeremy Hermida while clinging to a 3-2 lead with a runner at third and two outs in the seventh. Enter Wilin Rosario, born Feb. 23, 1989. Moyer first appeared with the Cubs on June 16, 1986, but that didn't matter.

"I had a lot of at-bats against him when he was in Miami, and I had a lot of success," Moyer said. "I was struggling with what I should do, if I should start him off in or start him off away. Wilin put a cutter down and I said, 'You know what? That's a good idea.'"

Hermida grounded out on that pitch and Moyer entered the dugout to the back-slaps and high-fives of his teammates, having held the Padres to six hits and two unearned runs in seven innings. He didn't exceed 79 mph on any of his 87 pitches.

Only after the Rockies scored two key runs in the eighth and Rafael Betancourt survived a nail-biting ninth inning did Moyer have his historic victory at Coors Field in front of 24,525.

Moyer's selfless approach to the key pitch demonstrates that even though the night was all about his place in history, he realizes the game really wasn't about him.

At 49 years and 151 days, Moyer surpassed the previous record held by the Brooklyn Dodgers' Jack Quinn, who beat the St. Louis Cardinals at Ebbets Field on Sept. 13, 1932, when he was 49 years and 70 days old. Moyer also tied Hall of Famer Jim Palmer for 35th place on the all-time wins list with 268.

It was Moyer's first win since June 27, 2010. Less than a month later, Moyer suffered an elbow injury that required surgery and kept him out all of last season. He signed with the Rockies on a Minor League contract and made the team in Spring Training.

Moyer has won 104 games since the beginning of his age-40 season, which was 2003. Hall of Famer Phil Niekro won 121 games from his age-40 season onward, the most ever.

Moyer understood the significance enough to have his wife, Karen, and seven of his eight children present. His oldest son, Dillion, plays baseball at the University of California, Irvine, and could not make it. However, he admits being embarrassed at not being a baseball historian.

But during the game he didn't waste time thinking about history. More important to him was the Rockies have a chance Wednesday night to win the three-game series with the Padres and finish with a winning record in their first homestand of the year, a nine-game set.

"For me to put that in front of the game really would be unfair to my teammates, unfair to myself," Moyer said. "It would tell me also that my focus and my attention were in the wrong place. And as you saw tonight, the game's not over until the last out is made. You have to respect and appreciate how this game is."

That Moyer held his own in a well-pitched game made manager Jim Tracy appreciate the performance even more.

"He didn't win 10-8 or 9-7," Tracy said. "He pitched seven awesome innings."

Moyer's only strikeout was of Cameron Maybin in the sixth. He also forced three double-play grounders, including one in the third from Mark Kotsay, who finished the night with two hits and is 21-for-36 against Moyer in his career. Moyer jokingly raised his arms in triumph after the double play, and laughed when Kotsay had an infield single in the sixth.

"For a guy to perservere and to still have the talent to be able to perform, I think it's a tremendous compliment to him as a professional athlete," Padres manager Bud Black said.

Michael Cuddyer, who had an RBI double off former Rockies closer Huston Street in the Rockies' two-run bottom of the eighth, said, "Jamie Moyer won that game with the way he pitched."

Moyer -- whose entry into history occurred on the second anniversary of another piece of Rockies pitching history, a no-hitter by Ubaldo Jimenez (now with the Indians) at Atlanta -- spent his previous two starts overcoming errors. Tuesday was no different.

Two-time Rawlings Gold Glove Award-winning shortstop Troy Tulowitzki made two errors Tuesday. The second, a grounder through his legs, opened the door to the two-run Padres seventh and forced Moyer to have to make the big pitch to Hermida.

Dexter Fowler, whose key error helped cement Moyer's 4-2 loss to the Giants in his last start, homered in the third inning off Padres starter Anthony Bass (0-2).

Rosario doubled in a run against Bass in the fourth, and drove home the Rockies' final run on a sacrifice fly in the eighth.

Early in Spring Training, Rosario admitted being intimidated by Moyer's experience. But Tuesday was another example of how he's trying to be just like Moyer, only 26 years younger.

"He's a guy that likes to fight," Rosario said. "He likes to have fun. He enjoys playing. We can learn from him."

Thomas Harding is a reporter for Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, and follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.