10/14/2004 2:30 AM ET
Martinez not bothered by chants
Red Sox hurler realized he 'was somebody important'
By Dick Kaegel / MLB.com
|Pedro Martinez was touched for three runs and four hits over six innings of work. (Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
NEW YORK -- Pedro Martinez had pitched tough for the Red Sox in big games many times.
In the postseason alone, Martinez was 5-1 with a 3.19 ERA in nine games entering Wednesday's Game 2 at Yankee Stadium. The only loss came during Game 3 of last year's ALCS, highlighted by a benches-clearing incident in which Martinez tossed then Yankees bench coach Don Zimmer to the ground.
As chanters among the 56,136 fans at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday night taunted him with "Who's your daddy? Who's your daddy?," Martinez went just six innings.
Strong innings. Yet he came out a 3-1 loser in the second game of the ALCS.
"He pitched very well," Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek said. "He pitched well enough to win. We just didn't hit."
The "daddy" business, drawn from his noted quote after a late-season loss to the Yankees, just seemed to elevate Martinez's game.
"People talk about his velocity being down, but he was throwing 95 [mph] today," the Yankees' Derek Jeter said. "He's tough, he's a competitor and I didn't really care what he said the last time we played them."
Martinez, who declined to meet with reporters on Tuesday, made an appearance in the interview room after Wednesday night's loss.
The chants? He enjoyed them.
"I actually realized that I was somebody important, because I caught the attention of 60,000 people, plus [the media], plus the whole world watching," said Martinez. "If you reverse the time back 15 years ago, I was sitting under a mango tree without 50 cents to actually pay for a bus. And today, I was the center of attention of the whole city of New York.
"I thank God for that, and you know what? I don't regret one bit what they do out there. I respect them and I actually kind of like it. Because I don't like to brag about myself, I don't like to talk about myself but they did make me feel important."
The crowd seized on a somewhat shaky first inning by Martinez. He began the game by walking Jeter and grazed Alex Rodriguez with a pitch before Gary Sheffield lined a run-scoring single to center field.
"It seemed like he was up in the strike zone and throwing extra hard. I said if he threw me a first-pitch fastball, I was going to jump on it," Sheffield said. "He did."
The 1-0 lead held until the sixth, when Martinez issued another costly walk, to Jorge Posada, and reached 100-pitch territory. Then he yielded a two-run homer to John Olerud.
"Pe-drooo! Pe-drooo!" was the chant now.
Martinez was down, 3-0, and, after that inning, done. Another "L" was about to appear on his postseason record.
"I can't do anything if we don't score runs," he said. "I can only pitch. Do whatever possible to keep my team in the game, and, from there on, it's up to them."
The Red Sox could do very little against Jon Lieber, Tom Gordon and closer Mariano Rivera. They managed just one hit in the first six innings, then four more in the last three innings.
"Pedro was awesome," center fielder Johnny Damon said. "It's unfortunate that we couldn't score any runs for him, but we got to see a really good Pedro. That ball Olerud hit out, you've got to tip your hat to that because that was a hard fastball up and in and not many guys are going to do that. Olerud's not going to do that too much but that swing was perfect."
Yankees manager Joe Torre was not at all surprised by Martinez's tight pitching.
"You can't think big against Pedro," Torre said. "And tonight he was Pedro ... he didn't give an inch and he had good velocity and good location after that first inning."
And Martinez had one last comment about that "daddy" matter.
"Even if tomorrow they are going to say 'Pedro lost,' " he said, "Pedro won. I had an opportunity to show everybody that I believe in God.
"The chanting about 'Who's your daddy?' My biggest daddy is the one that put me out there and the one that brought me over from the mango tree to the biggest stage in the world at the moment."
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.