The knuckleball may not have been a pitch that was in George Kirby's arsenal, but he had no problem busting it out in Sunday's regular-season finale. The Seattle Mariners starter tossed a knuckleball on Sunday as a way to honor former Boston Red Sox pitcher Tim Wakefield.
Wakefield, 57, died on Sunday following a battle with brain cancer.
Kirby tossed the knuckleball during the fourth inning of the Mariners' 1-0 win over the Texas Rangers on Sunday, and he managed to strike out Rangers star Corey Seager on the play. The right-hander chose the pitch because Wakefield threw one of the best knuckleballs in MLB history.
"I loved watching that guy throw, even though he's a Red Sox player and I'm a born Yankee fan," Kirby said. "But yeah, it was a great day to throw it and I'm glad Seager missed it and didn't take it deep. So, yeah that was fun."
Mariners catcher Cal Raleigh, who actually grew up as a Red Sox fan, signaled for Kirby to throw the knuckleball. Sunday's game had no bearing on the standings as the Mariners had already been eliminated form playoff contention.
"With the passing of Tim Wakefield today, who knows -- baseball is a weird game that way," Mariners manager Scott Servais said. "I do believe in the baseball gods, and maybe that's why it came out today."
Kirby just completed his second professional season, which included appearing in the All-Star Game for the first time in his career. He finished the season with a 13-10 record to go along with a 3.35 ERA and 173 strikeouts. Kirby tossed six shutout innings on Sunday and yielded only three hits.