Yankees 3, Red Sox 1
Pedro Martinez's traipse from the bullpen to the dugout prior to his start on Wednesday appeared to span continents and last days. It was a crawl across a vast and expansive outfield, and for a moment it appeared Martinez was alone in his thoughts. It was only moments before New York Yankees fans shattered his facade of solitude with a steady stream of jeers.
"Who's your daddy?" they chanted, a phrase that has followed Martinez since a Sept. 24 loss to the Yankees that had compelled him to say, "I can't find a way to beat them at this point. What can I say? I just tip my hat and call the Yankees my daddy."
Martinez, who came up on the wrong end of a decision in Boston's 3-1 loss to New York in Game 2 that put the Red Sox in a 2-0 hole in the best-of-seven American League Championship Series, for a few sweet minutes after the game basked in the glow of how he got to this point. He remembered himself as a poor child from the Dominican Republic, who would sit under a mango tree without a cent in his pockets. And now he had brought New York, the grandest, loudest city, to a complete halt.
"I actually realized I was somebody important," Martinez said in a stirring postgame news conference. "I got the attention of 60,000 people. Today I was the center of attention of the whole city of New York."
But Martinez could not escape the chorus and perhaps the reality that he cannot handle the Yankees. Martinez failed to beat the Yankees on a night when he allowed just three runs in six innings, at times looking dominant, blowing his 96-mph fastball past hitters.
"When will I get the support, I don't know," Martinez said. "I'm not going to ask that question."
He had allowed just one run through the first five innings, before a two-run homer by John Olerud in the sixth provided a three-run cushion. Olerud's homer, on a 1-2 changeup, just got into the bleachers in Yankee Stadium's short right field.
"In that situation I've got two strikes against me and against Pedro that's a bad position to be in," Olerud said. "I'm trying to protect the plate and just get the bat on the ball."
Fans had come to Yankee Stadium to jeer Martinez, but ended up serenading Jon Lieber, a journeyman pitcher who had spent most of his career on losing teams and was participating in his first postseason.
Lieber, who allowed just one run on three hits in seven innings, turned the mighty Red Sox lineup soft.
"I'm sure it meant a lot to him," Derek Jeter said. "He's waited a long time."
The top three hitters of Boston's lineup, a group that helped the Red Sox score a major league-best 949 runs, has floundered in the ALCS. The three, Johnny Damon, Mark Bellhorn and Manny Ramirez, have combined for just three hits in 24 at-bats with nine strikeouts.
"I've got to get my game going," said Damon, who is 0 for 8 in the series with five strikeouts. "I'm better than that. They know a good way to beat our team is to stop me."
Mariano Rivera, for the second consecutive night, entered the game in the eighth inning and emerged with a save. Boston, the decided favorite in this series according to oddsmakers, is in a deep hole.
It was the Yankees' pitching staff that had promised fearful performances, but through the first two games, New York starters have kept Boston scoreless through the first six innings of each game, out-dueling aces Curt Schilling and Martinez.
"The only thing that concerned me about our starting pitching is that we didn't have the numbers we've had in the past," Yankees Manager Joe Torre said. "These two games were huge. Especially tonight. Curt didn't have his best stuff yesterday, but Pedro was Pedro. To beat him when he had his stuff like this, it really gives us a lot of confidence."
Martinez's journey from the bullpen prior to the game had ended with a hand slap from Schilling, who had abandoned his position on the top step of the dugout, arms folded, leaning against the railing. It was Schilling's ankle injury that had forced Boston to lean hard on Martinez in this game.
Yankees fans did not relent for a second in taunting Martinez. He heard the chorus immediately after stepping out of the dugout on his way to the mound for the first inning. As the chants continued, Yankees fans asking, "Who's your daddy?" Martinez pointed toward the sky. The fans continued chanting. Martinez again pointed to the sky, toward God.
"My biggest daddy is the one who brought me out there and brought me from the mango tree onto the biggest stage," he said. "I don't like to brag about myself, I don't like to talk about myself, but they did make me feel important."
Martinez's first five pitches were balls. After a first-pitch ball to Alex Rodriguez, Martinez stood on the mound and held the baseball in his hand, seemingly unable to let it go. Catcher Jason Varitek rose from his crouch behind the plate and approached Martinez. The two conferred for several moments. His next pitch was another ball. Three pitches later, Martinez hit Rodriguez on the forearm.
With men on first and second, Gary Sheffield lined a single to center, scoring Jeter for New York's first run. Before recording the first out, Varitek again had to consult Martinez on the mound. Though Martinez looked beaten, the Yankees could not break him. Martinez ended the Yankees' threat in the first by striking out Hideki Matsui and Bernie Williams and forcing a groundout from Jorge Posada.
The Yankees put two runners on base against Martinez in the second inning, but could not push another run through. Martinez promised a strong start in this raucous atmosphere, and at times his promise held. But not for all night.