Boston Red Sox Manager Jimy Williams left the door open for a Sunday start by injured Red Sox ace Pedro Martinez if a Game 4 is needed in Boston's first-round American League playoff series against the Cleveland Indians. But Williams and Boston General Manager Dan Duquette said no decision would be made until Martinez's condition is evaluated Saturday.
Martinez, who suffered a muscle strain in his mid-back during the fourth inning of Wednesday's 3-2 defeat to the Indians, began ultrasound treatment yesterday. He will undertake stretching and light exercise today, according to Red Sox physician William Morgan.
"We will see how he feels," Duquette said before Game 2 last night. "We'll know more on Saturday when he's had a chance to rest and do some therapy. . . . [Then] we will decide if he will be able to pitch the rest of the series."
In a statement released by the Red Sox, Martinez said: "I have some improvement from [Wednesday]. I feel better already. I really feel positive about it. . . . Right now, I'm just busy working and I'm going to keep working."
Martinez, the runaway favorite for the AL Cy Young award, posted a 23-4 record this season with a 2.07 earned run average. Given Cleveland's ability to produce runs, Martinez was considered the key for Boston to have any chance of taking the series. He allowed no runs and three hits in his four innings Wednesday. The Red Sox had a 2-0 lead when Martinez left the game, but the Indians tied the game and picked up the win on a ninth-inning, bases-loaded single by Travis Fryman.
"Pedro Martinez is the best pitcher in baseball," Indians Manager Mike Hargrove said. "Obviously him not coming out in the fifth was nice to see. . . . There's something about when you don't have to face Pedro Martinez for the rest of the game. Things go to the positive side a little bit."
Contrast in the Dugout
The Yankees' and Rangers' managers offered a sharp contrast in mood tonight before Game 2 of their first-round American League playoff series. The Yankees' Joe Torre appeared totally calm, while Johnny Oates looked and sounded worried when quizzed by the media on how Texas might get untracked after losing seven straight postseason games to the Yankees.
"It's a tough place to come in as a visiting team," Oates said of playing at Yankee Stadium.
Asked if the Yankees hold a psychological advantage after winning Game 1, Oates replied: "I think it is a factor."
Oates said the Yankees would continue to hold a psychological edge "until we have success." The message for his players: "It's okay to be nervous but don't panic."
If Oates hardly sounded optimistic, Torre took a business-as-usual approach. He declared Game 3 starter Roger Clemens ready to go for Saturday's game in Arlington, Tex. "He seemed very relaxed [today] and very mindful of what his job is," Torre said. "You hope he doesn't get too pumped up . . . because he can't control it on the mound."
Clemens (14-10, 4.60 ERA for the season) last started against Texas in June at Yankee Stadium, going seven innings and losing 4-2. He last started at The Ballpark in April and gave up five runs in two innings, leaving with tightness in his left hamstring and not figuring in the Yankees' 7-6 win. In nine postseason starts during his career, Clemens has a 1-2 record.
Special correspondent Jim Maloney contributed to this report from Houston. Shipley reported from Cleveland, Gildea from New York.
CAPTION: Manager Jimy Williams is hoping to have ace Pedro Martinez for Game 4, if Red Sox can dig out of 0-2 deficit.