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Hoffman's teammates take pride in 600

Hoffman's teammates take pride in 600

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MILWAUKEE -- Judging by their reaction after the final out in Tuesday night's 4-2 victory over the Cardinals, you might think the Brewers had just won the World Series.

While that may not have been the case, what they experienced certainly ranks up there pretty close. As shortstop Craig Counsell fired to Prince Fielder at first, all-time saves leader Trevor Hoffman recorded career save No. 600.

"To have that final out hit to Milwaukee's own, sure-handed Craig Counsell, that was rather fitting," said Hoffman.

As Fielder caught the feed from Counsell, the Brewers mobbed Hoffman on the mound.

"To be a part of it was great because of how much admiration we all have for Trevor," Counsell said. "That's what makes it special. Hopefully, that came out [in the celebration]. The way he does his job is the way we all try to do ours."

For rookie John Axford, the moment presented a fitting role reversal.

When Axford entered with one out in the eighth, he appeared to be in line for the five-out save and his 21st of the season. Instead, the historic moment finally arrived for Hoffman.

"We all understood that this was a moment for him," Axford said. "I was just hoping inside that he was going to go out there. I know he deserves it and I knew he could get it done."

After the emotional on-field ceremony that ensued, Axford was reminded by teammate Zach Braddock of an interesting relationship between Hoffman's save No. 600 and the first of the 2010 season for Axford.

On May 23 at Target Field, after Hoffman had surrendered the closer's duties, he delivered a scoreless eighth for a hold with the Brewers leading, 4-2, over the Twins. Three months later, it was Axford who delivered the hold in front of Hoffman.

"I felt like I had a big stake in it, too," Axford said. "It really is unbelievable. It's probably the best hold I'll ever have in my entire life right there."

Not only was it likely the most memorable hold of Axford's career, it was also the most exciting win to date for Brewers starter Chris Narveson.

"You can't beat starting a game with Hoffy coming in and getting 600," Narveson said. "That will be one of the best games I'll ever be a part of."

When Hoffman began to warm in the bullpen during the bottom of the eighth, fans and players alike began to take notice.

In the dugout, teammates were asking Axford if it would be him or Hoffman in the ninth. As the Miller Park speakers began to play "Hells Bells," their questions were answered. With that, they became spectators along with everyone else in attendance.

"I had beyond goosebumps," reliever Todd Coffey said. "I was completely removed from the bullpen and everything. I was 100 percent spectator at that point."

For the players on the field, however, the moment was more nerve wracking than anything before Counsell and Fielder recorded the final out.

"The one thought that kept going through my mind was, 'Don't hit the ball to me,'" said third baseman Casey McGehee. "I think I probably was more nervous than he was."

Once save No. 600 was in the books, celebration ensued. From all directions -- the outfield, infield, dugout and bullpen -- Brewers players and coaches sprinted to the mound.

First among them was rookie catcher Jonathan Lucroy, who embraced Hoffman after playing an integral role in the historic moment.

"It's something that I'll remember for the rest of my life and cherish," Lucroy said. "I got goosebumps standing on the mound waiting for him to get in there.

"I'll never forget it the rest of my life."

Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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