- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
Southern Maryland Blue Crabs relief pitcher Jim Ed Warden has the Atlantic League’s all-time career saves record all to himself now.
Warden, in his sixth season as a member of the organization, picked up his 123rd career league save Thursday night as the Blue Crabs defeated Camden 1-0 at Regency Furniture Stadium in Waldorf.
“It feels good. It’s something I never shot for, but it’s special to have a record like that,” Warden said.
Warden, a 6-foot-7 righty, pitched a perfect top of the ninth inning, getting three straight groundouts. He got Camden third baseman Bryant Nelson to ground out to second baseman Amadeo Zazueta for the final out of the game, notching the record and his sixth save of the 2014 season.
“I hope the record can last,” Warden said, “but records are meant to be broken.”
Warden had been tied at 122 with Mike Guilfoyle, who was with Bridgeport from 1998 to 2003, since May 23 when his record-tying save helped the Blue Crabs defeat Somerset on the road, 3-2.
“That’s just a record that you think would never be broken right there,” Blue Crabs manager Lance Burkhart said. “That is just a credit to his longevity for the game and his ability to consistently close down games, which is not the easiest thing to do.”
The teams split a doubleheader last Wednesday, playing until near midnight, with each game being decided in the final regulation inning, the seventh, as Atlantic League doubleheaders are two seven-inning games. Thursday’s game took just 2 hours 4 minutes in front of a reported 1,156 fans in attendance.
“The fans and my teammates have been great,” Warden said. “It was great to have my wife and kids there.”
Warden saved the game for starter Brian Baker, who allowed only one hit in seven innings and struck out three while not walking a batter.
The only hit Baker gave up in getting his first win of the season was a leadoff single to catcher Jose Morales to start the top of the third. Baker retired the next eight batters and 15 of the final 17 he faced.
Erik Hamren came on for the eighth and Warden took over in the ninth. Hamren did not allow a hit, striking out a batter and walking another in his inning of work.
The lone run of the game came in the bottom of the fifth. Blue Crabs designated hitter Tony Delmonico reached on an error by Camden shortstop Zack McPhee with one out, went to third on a base hit to right field by shortstop Angel Sanchez and scored on a sacrifice fly to center by catcher Juan Medina. The Blue Crabs had just three hits in the contest.
He added to the record on Saturday, picking up his 124th career save, seventh of the 2014 season, in an 8-5 win over York to give the Blue Crabs their third win in a row.
To go along with his seven saves, Warden is 1-0 overall with a 1.72 ERA. That one victory came last Wednesday in a 7-6 win over Camden in the first game of a doubleheader on a walk-off single by C.J. Ziegler.
Warden has pitched in 16 games, going 15 2/3 innings with 15 strikeouts and four walks.
When asked on how he felt being the new king of saves in the league, Warden smiled.
“It was something that I kept my sights on and a goal that I had for the last few years,” said Warden on breaking the record. “That was one of the reasons I came back to play this year and it was very satisfying to get it. But now that that’s over we still have a lot of games to play and some ground to makeup. My personal goal was achieved but now it’s about what the team needs.”