Tuesday, July 5, 2005
As Good As It Gets
By Bob Carter
Special to ESPN.com
Sept. 10, 1999 - The performance was so brilliant that by the time Pedro Martinez finished up with five straight strikeouts at Yankee Stadium, even the rival Yankees fans were applauding him.
The Boston righthander threw a one-hitter, striking out a career-high 17, in beating first-place New York, 3-1. It was the most strikeouts ever against the Yankees.
Martinez allowed two baserunners - Chuck Knoblauch, who was hit by a pitch leading off in the first inning, and Chili Davis, who homered in the second. He retired the final 22 batters, fanning 12 of the last 15.
"This is as good as it gets. I won't lie," said Martinez, who won his 21st game of the season with his second career one-hitter.
Mike Stanley's two-run homer in the sixth put Boston ahead 2-1, and Martinez took it from there. He threw 81 of his 121 pitches for strikes.
"I've been around the game 26 years," Red Sox pitching coach Joe Kerrigan said, "and I've never seen anything like it."
Odds 'n' Ends
As a child, Martinez helped his mother with gardening, fostering his love for flowers.
He and his brother Ramon often would use their sister's doll heads for baseballs.
Ramon, who is 3½ years older, advised Pedro to learn English in the minor leagues.
Pedro picked up the language quickly and has expressed pride over his fluency.
In his major league debut, on Sept. 24, 1992, Pedro relieved Ramon, the first time that brothers had pitched in the same game for the same team since Atlanta's Rick and Mickey Mahler in 1979.
In 1994, his first season with Montreal, Martinez established himself as a starter, going 11-5 with a 3.42 ERA in 24 games, and was involved in three fights. He led the National League by hitting 11 batters.
He hit 11 batters again the next season and received three warnings, along with a $500 fine for his plunking of Houston's Luis Gonzalez.
Martinez retired the first 27 San Diego hitters on June 3, 1995 before Bip Roberts doubled to lead off the 10th inning. Mel Rojas retired the next three Padres and Montreal won 1-0 in the bottom half of the inning. Martinez is not credited with either a perfect game or no-hitter.
On Aug. 29, 1996, Pedro and Ramon Martinez matched up for the first time, with Pedro winning the brothers' pitching duel as the Dodgers beat the Expos 2-1.
In 1996, the Expos scored 22 runs in Pedro's 10 losses.
Martinez won the first regular-season matchup of Montreal and Toronto, allowing three hits in a 2-1 Expos victory on June 30, 1997.
Two weeks later, he pitched a one-hitter in 100-degree heat in beating Cincinnati 2-0. Bret Boone's fifth-inning single was the Reds' hit.
In 1999, Pedro and Ramon were re-united as teammates on the Red Sox.
In May 1999, Martinez struck out 15 batters in consecutive games in victories over Anaheim and Seattle. On June 4, he fanned 16 in beating Atlanta.
He beat Toronto 3-0 on Sept. 21, 1999, for his 22nd win. Martinez struck out 12, breaking Roger Clemens' team record of 291 for the season. He also became the second pitcher (after Randy Johnson) to fan at least 300 in a season in each league.
With a 23-4 record, 2.07 ERA and 313 strikeouts in 1999, Martinez won the pitcher's Triple Crown and became the first Boston pitcher since Cy Young in 1901 to lead the American League in wins, ERA and strikeouts.
Martinez is one of three pitchers to win the Cy Young Award in both leagues. Gaylord Perry and Randy Johnson are the others.
Tampa Bay ended a 13-game Martinez winning streak on May 6, 2000, beating Boston 1-0 behind Steve Trachsel. Martinez struck out 17 to match his career high.
Later that month, Martinez outdueled Clemens at Yankee Stadium, winning 2-0 on Trot Nixon's homer in the ninth inning.
John Flaherty's leadoff single in the ninth was Tampa Bay's only hit off Martinez on Aug. 29, 2000 in an 8-0 Boston win.
Martinez continued his mastery of the Devil Rays in April 2001 by striking out 16 in a three-hit, 3-0 victory.
On May 18, 2002 against Seattle, he struck out the side in the first inning on nine pitches during a 4-1 victory.
On June 2, 2004, Martinez, making his 300th start, became the 26th pitcher to strike out 2,500 hitters.
The Red Sox were 12-20 (including the playoffs) in games Martinez started against the Yankees.
He's said that he often gives away as much money as he spends. He established a charitable foundation in Boston and he's funded several projects in his native Dominican, including the building of a church in his hometown.
Unmarried, Martinez revealed in 2003 that he is the father of two children. He said he wants one to go to Boston College and the other to Harvard.
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