10/11/2003 10:42 PM ET
Martinez shaky in tense fourth
Yankees score twice, benches clear in critical frame
By Jim Street / MLB.com
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BOSTON -- The last 11 batters right-hander Pedro Martinez faced on a memorable Saturday evening at Fenway Park produced 12 outs. Only two balls were hit past the infield.
The Red Sox ace was spectacular while methodically mowing down the Yankees.
But it's what happened prior to that stretch that made Game 3 of the American League Championship Series stand out.
For whatever reason, the three-time Cy Young Award winner didn't pitch like his usual dominant self and the AL Wild Card team finds itself in another dilemma -- they must beat the Yankees three times in four games to play in the World Series for the first time in 17 years.
The Red Sox, knowing they would be sitting pretty in the ALCS if Martinez maintained his perfect postseason record, scored two runs in the first inning off Yankees right-hander Roger Clemens.
A two-run lead for Martinez is like a five-run bulge for most pitchers.
On this night, however, in the most important game in this best-of-seven series so far, Pedro the Magnificent was Pedro the Ordinary.
"He wasn't real sharp early," catcher Jason Varitek said.
A leadoff double and two-out single in the second inning erased half of the lead. Derek Jeter took care of the other half with a one-out home run to left field, a towering blast that cleared the Green Monster and the Monster Seats, landing on Yawkey Way.
"He hung a breaking pitch," Varitek said.
But back-to-back strikeouts of Jason Giambi (looking) and Bernie Williams (swinging) indicated that the Jeter home run had produced a wakeup call and Martinez would maintain his unbeaten October record, moving the Sox one win closer to the World Series.
Then came the inning that changed the tone of the game. A walk, single and double put the Yankees ahead by a run. Martinez hit Karim Garcia with a pitch, loading the bases and raising the intensity level between the bitter rivals several notches.
Angry words between Garcia and Martinez were exchanged and both teams were issued a warning by plate umpire Alfonso Marquez.
As though a switch was turned on inside him, Martinez induced Alfonso Soriano to ground into a double play and he retired nemesis Enrique Wilson (7-for-8 against Martinez during the regular season) on a popup to second baseman Todd Walker.
"He pitched well after that big inning," Varitek said. "I think he found his release point a lot better. He was stronger with his fastball and his conviction in throwing it was better. And his offspeed pitches were down more. He just pitched better."
Interim pitching coach Dave Wallace said Martinez pitched a fine game. "He missed on a pitch or two."
Martinez saw a little bit more action in the bottom half of the frame, involved in an incident with Yankees coach Don Zimmer when benches cleared.
Zimmer came at Martinez, and the pitcher tried to stop him by putting up his hand. But the 72-year-old Zimmer ran into Ramirez and ended up on the ground.
The Sox hurler said he was "shocked, really shocked" that Zimmer came at him and that the Yankees bench coach attempted to hit him.
"He did, he tried," Martinez said. "I could never hit him, I would never do it. I was just trying to dodge him and push him away and (it was) too bad his body fell. I hope he's fine."
From the visiting dugout, the Yankees noticed that Martinez wasn't throwing as hard early in the game as he normally does.
"He mixes speed and stuff," manager Joe Torre said. "I just think the velocity wasn't there like when he throws his best. But he still pitched well."
Martinez worked seven innings, allowing six hits and four runs.
"I thought we were aggressive against him," Torre added. "Normally, we take a lot of pitches against him. But he threw a lot of strikes early."
Martinez departed with his team behind 4-3, and that's the way it ended. His postseason record is now 4-1 with the chances of getting another shot at New York hinging on whether the Sox can extend the series to seven games.
Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to approval by Major League baseball or its clubs.