10/27/09 7:00 PM EST
It'll be like old times: Pedro vs. Yanks
In Game 2, righty will toe rubber against familiar adversary
By Mark Bowman / MLB.com
If those same jeers come again on Thursday night when Martinez starts Game 2 of the World Series for the Phillies at Yankee Stadium at 7:57 ET, Martinez will take them far more seriously.
Shortly after last year's All-Star break, Martinez returned to his native Dominican Republic to pay homage to his father, who lost a long battle with brain cancer.
"That will be special to me, because it has new meaning now when I am out there, and it will remind me that I have only one Daddy and he is up in heaven now," Martinez said.
While no longer blessed with the same strong right shoulder that helped him become a dominant hurler in the first part of the decade, Martinez still has the same youthful, loose personality that has been on display throughout his career.
After concluding an interview session on one of the concourses at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday afternoon, Martinez took time to walk to the stadium's gates and exchange a few kind words with Yankees fans, some of whom could be looking forward to the opportunity to jeer the former Red Sox star again.
"They've never been nice to me here," Martinez said. "If they boo, it's out of respect. If they clap, it's out of respect. Anything that they do is acknowledging that I'm there. So I take it all as a positive."
We Meet Again
|ALCS Gm 3||10/16/99||W||7||12|
|ALCS Gm 3||10/11/03||L||7||6|
|ALCS Gm 7||10/16/03||ND||7.1||8|
|ALCS Gm 2||10/13/04||L||6||7|
|ALCS Gm 5||10/18/04||ND||6||6|
|ALCS Gm 7||10/20/04||N/A*||1||1|
Having played behind Martinez when he made his most recent start against the Yankees in Game 7 of the ALCS, Yankees outfielder Johnny Damon knows New York fans are going to have some things to say to the former Boston ace. "I'm sure it's going to be crazy," Damon said. "Pedro knows how to handle himself. He was the best pitcher in this game for a number of years. He knows what it takes to be in the spotlight, and he's thrived in the spotlight before."
As he prepares to face the Bombers for the first time in the World Series, Martinez still stands as a enemy to Yankees fans, whose dislike stems far beyond his once grabbing their 72-year-old coach Don Zimmer and throwing him to the ground during a benches-clearing incident in Game 3 of the 2003 American League Championship Series.
When Martinez went 8-7 with a 2.65 ERA in his first 21 regular-season starts against the Yankees, he was viewed as a pitcher who gave New York fits. But after yielding 13 earned runs over just 12 2/3 innings in his final two regular-season starts against the Yanks in 2004, the former Red Sox hurler said, "I just tip my hat and call the Yankees my daddy."
This is what prompted the "Who's Your Daddy?" chants during his two appearances at Yankee Stadium in the 2004 ALCS.
Martinez heard it as he allowed three earned runs and four hits in six innings of a Game 2 loss at Yankee Stadium. Seven days later, with their club facing an 8-1, seventh-inning deficit in Game 7, Yankees fans again barked the chant as their club knocked Martinez around for two earned runs in just one inning of relief.
The Red Sox held on to win that evening and erase some of the sting that was created when Martinez played a key role in the Game 7 loss they'd suffered against the Yankees in the 2003 ALCS. Boston fans remember the game for manager Grady Little sticking with Martinez too long, allowing the Yankees to score three runs and tie the game in the eighth inning. Yankees fans remember it as the night that Aaron Boone hit an 11th-inning walk-off homer.
"We've had a lot of battles with Pedro over the years, from Boston obviously and then when he pitched with the Mets," Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter said. "Pedro is one of the best pitchers that ever played this game. Whether he's throwing 97 [mph], 98 or not, he knows how to pitch. So it's always a challenge when we face him. We always look forward to the challenge, as I'm sure he does."
Martinez introduced himself to the Yankees in the postseason by tossing seven scoreless innings against them in Game 3 of the 1999 ALCS. In the five playoff appearances -- four starts -- he's made against them since then, he's gone 0-2 with a 5.93 ERA.
"I don't think this is my house," said Martinez, who went 0-1 with a 6.28 ERA in the three postseason appearances that he made at old Yankee Stadium.
Martinez joined the Mets at the beginning of the 2005 season and made four starts against the Yankees. His most recent outing against his long-time rivals proved to be forgettable, as they tagged him for six earned runs in just 5 2/3 innings at Shea Stadium on June 27, 2008.
"I know it's not the Pedro Martinez that the Yankees saw [during the playoffs] in '03 and '04," Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira said. "But he's still a very good pitcher. There's nothing wrong with his stuff. There's nothing wrong with his command, and he's still one of the best competitors in baseball."
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.