10/02/2003 5:06 AM ET
Iron men of a marathon
Walker, Martinez battle furiously in ALDS opener
OAKLAND -- It could have been such a great night for Todd Walker.
By Jim Street / MLB.com
The Red Sox second baseman, playing in his first postseason game, hit
two home runs, singled twice and basically put on an offensive display that
would make any slugger proud.
When he hit a two-run home run off Athletics left-handed reliever
Ricardo Rincon in the seventh inning, turning a one-run Red Sox deficit into
a one-run lead, those still awake in Red Sox Nation were jumping up and
After all, the Red Sox led and right-hander Pedro Martinez was still
But neither Martinez nor Walker were around in the 12th inning when the
AL West champion Athletics pulled out a 5-4 victory in Game 1 of the
best-of-five Division Series on a bases-loaded, two-out bunt single by
Oakland catcher Ramon Hernandez.
"Pedro and Walker were both outstanding," Red Sox manager Grady Little
said. "You can't ask for anything more from Walker than he gave us, and
Pedro pitched his heart out."
Well, the Red Sox could have asked for one more at-bat from Walker.
He was removed from the game in the eighth inning for defensive
purposes and after Oakland tied it in the bottom of the ninth inning on
Erubiel Durazo's two-out single to left field, Walker's spot in the batting
order came up in the 11th inning with runners on first and second and
Right-handed batting Damian Jackson came to bat and struck out to end
That wouldn't have been so bad if the Red Sox won the game. But they
didn't and there was no way in the world for Walker to strut his stuff.
"It takes away a lot," Walker said. "It doesn't matter what you do
individually. If you don't win, it's no fun."
Asked what was going through his mind as he circled the bases, Walker
said, "We just went ahead by a run and we have Pedro on the
That usually is a winning combination.
But as much of a warrior as Martinez was in the Division Series opener, he
threw so many pitches over seven innings (130) that he finally had to
hand the ball over to the Red Sox bullpen in the eighth.
Right-hander Mike Timlin pitched a perfect eighth inning, striking out
two batters, but closer Byung-Hyun Kim walked a batter, hit a batter
and Durazo lined his game-tying hit to left field off left-handed
reliever Alan Embree.
Pedro's win vanished into the thick Bay Area air.
"He did a tremendous job out there against a team of patient hitters,"
said Timlin of Martinez. "He kept his pitch count down
early, but he had to work hard in a couple of innings. But he showed why
he is a Cy Young Award winner. He was a warrior out there."
Now, the Red Sox must return to the ballpark for a 1 p.m. PT game and
try to become warriors themselves.
Jim Street is a reporter
for MLB.com. This story was not subject to approval by Major League
baseball or its clubs.