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Ace to let his arm do the talking
10/13/2004 3:07 AM ET
NEW YORK -- Pedro Martinez is not saying a word.

Nada.

Zilch.

Zip.

And he's definitely not calling the Yankees "Daddy" anymore.

The boisterous right-hander, who wears his emotions on his sleeve as proudly as he sports Boston's name across his uniform, is swallowing his pride -- and his tongue -- once more in order to let his arm do the talking again -- this time on Wednesday in Game 2 of the American League Championship Series against the Yankees.

He has no choice. After Tuesday's 10-7 loss, the Red Sox trail in the series, 1-0.

"He's going to show up on the mound, that's what I care about," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "Whether he talks to you [the media] or not, I know it probably frustrates you, [but] you can talk to me. I don't personally care. I want him to pitch really, really well."

As the saying goes, "Father knows best." In this case, so does Francona and Martinez's other "Daddy," Kevin Millar. Millar defended his teammate for declining to attend Tuesday's voluntary media session. Martinez also did not talk to the media before he pitched in the American League Division Series against Anaheim.

"Well, I'm his Daddy; not the Yankees. So he answers to me first," Millar joked before taking a more serious tone. "Pedro is very misunderstood in the media, along with Manny Ramirez, but Pedro is a phenomenal teammate and really intelligent and funny guy. This guy is a clown in the locker room. We have a lot of fun with him, but this is also a three-time Cy Young Award winner and should have been four the year that [Barry] Zito won it."

Millar has plenty of reasons to be proud of his "son." Martinez went 16-9 with a 3.90 ERA this season, but recent history against New York is perhaps better left in the past. He went 0-1, allowing 16 hits in 14 1/3 innings in two games against the Yankees in the 2003 ALCS.

This season, he was 1-2 with a 5.47 ERA in four games against the Yankees, including the Sept. 24 outing in which he allowed five runs in 7 1/3 innings and went on to call the Yankees his "Daddy" after the game, setting off a firestorm.
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Overall, he is a respectable 10-10 with a 3.24 ERA in 189 innings against the Yankees, but the Red Sox are 17-6 in Martinez's last 23 starts against the Bronx Bombers.

He is 7-4 with a 3.00 ERA in 15 starts at Yankee Stadium.

"I think Pedro this year, you know, struggled when we had a tough time scoring runs for him," Millar said. "Pedro is one of best big-game pitchers out there. I don't think there's a baseball club in the world that they would not want Pedro in a big game. But we have to find a way offensively to give them a lead. I think we've done that with [Curt] Schilling at times."

Martinez's luck appears to have changed.

In his last start, Martinez allowed three runs and six hits in seven innings in the victory against Anaheim in Game 2 of the ALDS. With a steady dose of offspeed pitches and well-timed fastballs, Martinez struck out six and walked two in the 116-pitch outing to snap a career-tying four-game losing streak.

The difference in Anaheim? Location.

"When he locates, he's very, very tough to beat," Francona said. "Because he can throw four different pitches and he can elevate the ball, he can sink the ball, he can throw out, he can throw in with no problems but he was throwing the ball over the middle of the plate in September too much."

The overall difference in this Martinez? Besides being quiet, the answer is there is little difference if any. Like the Pedro of old, he is now seems very effective when pitching late in the game. Consider that when he throws at least 106 pitches, he is holding batters to a .222 mark this season. Last season, batters hit .364 at 106 pitches or more.

"This guy, he's a competitor," Millar said. "He showed what he has left in the tank against Anaheim and he'll pitch tomorrow. We're just very lucky and fortunate that we have two days with aces going."

Undoubtedly, Martinez agrees. He's just not saying it.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


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