Pedro Rises To The Occasion, Charlie Manuel Fails History

This post first appeared on BaseballDigest.com

A Disclaimer: The Phillies did not lose Game 2 of the World Series because of Charlie Manuel’s pitching decision. They lost because A.J. Burnett and Mariano Rivera stifled their offense. The Yankees simply outplayed the Phillies. However, considering that there is a real possibility that Pedro Martinez will face the Yankees again this postseason, it’s worth pointing out an obvious flaw in Charlie Manuel’s managing of his starting pitcher.

For perhaps one night only, Red Sox fans became Philadelphia Phillies fans as Pedro Martinez continued his successful 2009 comeback tour with his start against the New York Yankees in Game 2 of the 2009 World Series. For 6 innings, Pedro Martinez lived up to the hype of the situation at hand in his first Bronx start in 4 years. He dominated the American League Champions, holding their offense to 4 hits including 2 runs on solo home runs by Mark Teixeira and Hideki Matsui, while striking out 8. Following the 6th inning, FOX cameras showed Phillies manager Charlie Manuel talking with his starter, who had reached nearly 100 pitches. When the 7th inning started, Manuel had decided to stick with Pedro Martinez and he was facing off against Jerry Hairston Jr., inserted in the lineup for his successes against the pitcher that dated back to 2004. Hairston blooped a single to right, and immediately “Shades of Grady” began to emerge during the tight 2-1 game. Melky Cabrera smacked a single to right before Charlie Manuel made the move to the bullpen. While the non-move cannot be considered as game-changing as the non-move made by ex-manager Grady Little in 2003, it seems almost inconceivable that a manager of Pedro Martinez would allow such a situation to present itself again.

Perhaps Phillies manager Charlie Manuel needs a history lesson in Pedro Martinez 101: Versus New York Yankees, Postseason Edition.

Pedro Martinez’s first postseason start against the Yankees was on October 16th, 1999, Game 3 of the ALCS that featured what should have been a classic pitching duel between Pedro and Yankees starter Roger Clemens. Instead, it was rout of epic proportions as Clemens and Hideki Irabu combined to give up 12 runs in 6 and 2 third innings. For the Red Sox this was their only victory in an eventual 4-1 series loss to the Yankees, who went on to win their second consecutive World Series title.

Pedro Martinez didn’t face the Yankees again in the postseason until Game 3 of the 2003 ALCS, matching up against Roger Clemens. This time, Clemens outpitched Pedro in a 4-3 victory for New York. The game included a bench clearing beanball war that resulted in Yankee bench coach Don Zimmer tumbling to the ground(which the NY media vilified Pedro Martinez for) and a post-game interview that included a hilarious quote from Martinez, “Who is Karim Garcia?”.

Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS was the setting of one of the most infamous managerial non-moves in recent baseball history. On October 16th 2003, 4 years to the day of the 1999 ALCS Game 3 matchup with Clemens, the two aces again squared off. In this round, Clemens exited after 3 innings and giving up 4 runs(3 earned). Martinez rolled through the Yankee lineup until the 7th inning, as his pitch count rose and the Yankee hitters grew comfortable at the plate. Despite giving up a home run and a pair of singles, Martinez got out of a 7th inning jam. Many Red Sox fans were surprised when Pedro Martinez appeared on the mound to start the 8th inning, despite the fact that David Ortiz’s home run in the top half of the inning gave the pitcher a 3 run lead to work with.

Until that point in the series, the Red Sox had utilized a near-systematic usage of their bullpen. Namely, Mike Timlin in the 8th inning and Scott Williamson in the 9th inning to close out games where the Red Sox were ahead. For reasons perhaps only ex-manager Grady Little knows, Pedro Martinez was left in the game after a mound visit by Little to determine if Martinez could finish the inning. Pedro subsequently gave up 4 consecutive hits, including 3 doubles, to allow the Yankees to tie the game at 5-5. Grady Little removed Pedro for Alan Embree and Mike Timlin to stop the bleeding, but the damage had been done. Three innings later, Aaron Boone was christened with a new middle name that starts with the letter F. Ask any Red Sox fan about the 2003 ALCS, and they will tell you the game was lost not in the 11th, but the 8th.

It was during the regular season in 2004 when Pedro Martinez uttered the now famous line, “I just have to tip my hat to the Yankees and call them my daddy.” after a loss to New York. Regardless of the outcome of the game, Yankees fans showered Pedro Martinez with ‘Who’s Your Daddy?” chants during his game 2 and 5 starts and his relief appearance during game 7 in the 2004 ALCS and even later in his first start back in the Bronx with the Mets in 2005. Though the Yankees have a new stadium, this is one of the traditions that made the move, as Yankee fans sang the refrain during Pedro’s warmups and at the beginning of Game 2 last night.

For 6 innings, Pedro Martinez largely silenced the New York crowd, save for the two home runs that gave New York a 2-1 lead. Thanks in part to Charlie Manuel’s inability to recall history, Yankees fans theme song for Pedro Martinez was sung loud as he exited the 7th inning with men on the corners. As the series heads back to Philadelphia tied a game a piece, hopefully Charlie Manuel is considering his options should he be faced with a similar situation later on.

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