September 22, 2006
SAN DIEGO (Ticker) - Trevor Hoffman's next save will be extra-special.
Hoffman recorded his 477th career save Thursday, leaving him only one behind Lee Smith for the all-time record. The 38-year-old Hoffman worked around a one-out walk in the ninth to seal the San Diego Padres' 3-1 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks. He also benefited from a stellar defensive play from center fielder Mike Cameron, who chased down a fly ball off the bat of leadoff hitter Eric Byrnes.
It was the NL-leading 41st save for Hoffman, who owns the major league record with 11 30-save seasons. The righthander has reached the 40-save plateau eight times in his career, including a personal-best 53 in 1998.
"The focus is what this means to the ballclub," Hoffman said. "It's a dog fight and these games are much more important to win than getting a save." Hoffman converted both of his save opportunities in the series after blowing an opportunity in Monday's 11-10 defeat against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
"It's going to be a big moment for all of us and I'm sure for him," Padres manager Bruce Bochy said. "Hopefully, he can do it here at home."
A five-time All-Star, Hoffman's most infamous moment in the midsummer classic came in July, when he blew the save in a 3-2 defeat to the American League, which consequently will have home-field advantage in the World Series.
But that meltdown was just a small blemish for Hoffman, who is 0-2 with a 2.02 ERA in 60 games this year. He is a big reason the Padres (80-72) sit one-half game ahead of the Dodgers (80-73) for first place in the National League West Division.
Smith registered 478 career saves with eight teams from 1980-97. He had 10 30-save seasons and three 40-save campaigns, including a career-high 47 with the 1991 St. Louis Cardinals. However, he is not in the Hall of Fame.
Updated on Friday, Sep 22, 2006 2:52 am EDT