08/17/2002 00:05 am ET
Pedro's streaks come to an end
Martinez falls to 12-2 after a Red Sox loss
By Ian Browne / MLB.com
MINNEAPOLIS -- Pedro Martinez had served as a pitching stop sign over the last two months, silencing any Red Sox losing streak that happened to be in the works when it was his turn to pitch. But Friday night in Minnesota, the ultimate stopper was stopped.
Though Martinez was vintage early, he was ultimately outdueled by Minnesota's Joe Mays, handing the reeling Red Sox a 5-0 defeat at the Metrodome. It was the second defeat in a row for the Red Sox, and third in four games on a road trip that is putting a severe dent in their pursuit of the Yankees in the AL East.
Martinez's record is now 12-2 following Red Sox defeats, and it was the first time he failed to stop a Boston losing streak since June 8, when he fell to Curt Schilling and the Diamondbacks.
Aside from the loss, a few personal streaks ended for Martinez. His consecutive scoreless innings streak -- the longest in the Majors this season -- was snapped at 35 in the bottom of the fifth. His 15-game winning streak against the American League ended as well, as the Twins became the first AL team to beat the 16-3 Martinez this season. And finally, his nine-game winning streak was halted.
It was his first loss since another Friday night -- way back on June 14 -- when he was bested 2-1 by the Braves' Kevin Millwood at Turner Field.
"I thought we would come back and get Mays. But Mays had his A-game today and he was doing a great job mixing pitches and keeping the ball in the infield. We just have to give them credit and look forward to the next one."
-- Pedro Martinez
In truth, Martinez deserved a better fate. He dazzled over the first six innings, striking out nine and allowing three hits.
Two of the five runs he allowed were unearned. And several of the eight hits he allowed just seemed to find holes.
"Things like that are going to happen to Pedro Martinez, they are going to happen to everyone," Red Sox manager Grady Little said. "Tonight wasn't his night."
The main reason for that wasn't the Twins offense, but rather Mays, who baffled the Red Sox en route to a complete-game, two-hit shutout.
Martinez has never been shy about tipping his cap when necessary, and this night was no different. When it was over, Martinez didn't feel as if there was anything to apologize for. He would take an outing like this again.
"They just got to some pitches," said Martinez, whose ERA dipped to 2.20. "I felt great the whole game. I had pretty good command of every pitch. It was just a matter of them making the adjustments."
The loudest adjustment was made by David Ortiz, Martinez's Dominican brethren, who turned on an inside cutter and smashed a solo shot -- "halfway to Chicago" according to Little -- into the upper deck in right to make it 2-0 in the seventh.
However, Martinez didn't have any gripes with that one. He just looked at it as a powerful hitter doing what he is paid to do. The one thing Martinez wanted back wasn't a pitch, but a fielding play.
It was the bottom of the fifth, and the game still scoreless, when Torii Hunter slapped a one-out single up the middle. Martinez was left out of position on his follow-through, and watched helplessly as the ball skidded past him and through the turf.
"I was so far across, I should have cut that back but I ended up facing the other side," Martinez said.
Naturally, it proved costly. Doug Mientkiewicz blasted a hit-and-run single to right, making it first and third with one out, and the Twins broke the scoreless tie on a Dustan Mohr fielder's choice to short. But Martinez wasn't worried at that point. It was just one skimpy run.
"I wasn't paying attention to that. I thought we would come back and get Mays. But Mays had his A-game today and he was doing a great job mixing pitches and keeping the ball in the infield. We just have to give them credit and look forward to the next one."
Unfortunately for the Red Sox, they've been forced to adopt that philosophy for too long now. They were baseball's best team through the first two months of the season, but are 32-35 since June 1.
"We can't scoreboard watch, we have to worry about ourselves," Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek said. "We haven't strung anything together in quite a while and we're running out of time. We need to get it together."
Meanwhile, Martinez was doing his best to put this outing in the rearview mirror. His next start comes Thursday at Fenway against the Rangers.
"This is gone," Martinez said. "It's just one game. It was a good game. The fact that I was overmatched today, these things happen."
It's just that they happen a lot less to Martinez than most.
Ian Browne, who covers the Red Sox for MLB.com, can be reached at Ian.Browne@mlb.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.