The ace right-hander hopes to put a turbulent week behind him and help the Red Sox earn a split of their four-game series with the Cleveland Indians at Jacobs Field.
Martinez, who has been looking for a long-term, multimillion dollar extension from the Red Sox, indicated last weekend that he would no longer negotiate with the club during the final season of his current contract.
He will instead opt to test free agency at the end of his deal, which pays him $17.5 million this season.
“I’m just really sad for the fans in New England who had high hopes that at this time I could say, truly, that I was going to stay in Boston, but now they’re going to have to compete with the rest of the league,” Martinez said.
The three-time Cy Young Award winner probably didn’t impress any potential suitors with his performance Saturday. Martinez was rocked for six runs and a season-high nine hits over only four innings, striking out three and walking one in an 8-5 loss at Texas.
The defeat ended a four-start unbeaten streak for Martinez, who had his first poor outing since giving up seven runs and eight hits over five innings in Boston’s 12-7 loss to Baltimore on April 15.
“It was just a game where I made mistakes and they made me pay,” said Martinez, who refused to speak about anything other than the game afterward. “I had a little struggle with the breaking ball. The whole game just didn’t work out today.”
Boston manager Terry Francona insisted Martinez just had an off night, and that the performance was not related to the pitcher’s conflict with management.
“You send him out there, you expect almost greatness,” Francona said. “You have to be human sometimes. Again, he didn’t locate and paid the price.”
The Red Sox put an end to their season-high five-game losing streak Wednesday with a 9-5 victory. Bill Mueller belted a tiebreaking three-run homer, and David Ortiz homered twice for Boston, which improved to 1-5 on its seven-game road trip.
Omar Vizquel homered for the Indians, who had their season-high four-game winning streak snapped.
STANDINGS (through May 3): Red Sox - 1st place (tied), AL East. Indians - 3rd place (tied), 3 1/2 GB, AL Central.
RED SOX PROBABLE STARTER: Martinez (3-2, 4.17 ERA). Martinez has dominated the Indians throughout his career, going 10-1 with two complete games and a 1.66 ERA in 14 career starts.
INDIANS PROBABLE STARTER: C.C. Sabathia (1-0, 1.61 ERA). Sabathia returned to the mound Saturday after missing two weeks with an irritation of his left biceps. The burly southpaw allowed one run and four hits over seven strong innings, but did not receive a decision in the Indians’ 3-2 win over Baltimore. Sabathia has allowed one earned run or fewer in all but one of his first four starts. He is 1-1 with a 2.40 ERA in two career starts against Boston.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Red Sox - Manny Ramirez, .355 avg.; Ortiz, 7 HRs and 22 RBIs; Mueller, 18 runs; Johnny Damon, 4 SBs. Indians - Ronnie Belliard, .384 avg.; Matt Lawton and Victor Martinez, 5 HRs; Matt Lawton, 21 RBIs and 20 runs; Jody Gerut, 4 SBs.
SEASON SERIES: Indians, 2-1.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Red Sox - 3B Mueller’s homer Wednesday was just his fourth in 32 at-bats with runners in scoring position. The defending AL batting champion has gone 4-for-7 since being dropped from second to eighth in the Boston lineup. … The Red Sox left six runners on base Wednesday after stranding 229 in their first 26 games. … OF Ramirez is 5-for-6 with two homers in his career against Sabathia. Indians - The Indians have never beaten RHP Martinez at Jacobs Field. He is 5-0 with a 1.88 ERA in six career starts at Cleveland. Martinez also earned a win in relief against the Indians in the decisive game of the 1999 AL division series in Cleveland. … OF Lawton has one hit in 14 career at-bats against Martinez. … LHP Sabathia is 1-0 with a 1.38 ERA in two home starts this season.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Red Sox - 8-8 on the road; Indians - 8-6 at home.
INJURIES: Red Sox - SS Nomar Garciaparra (Achilles’), 15-day DL; OF Ellis Burks (knee), 15-day DL; OF Trot Nixon (back), 15-day DL; RHP Ramiro Mendoza (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Jason Shiell (elbow), 15-day DL; LHP Brad Thomas (elbow), 15-day DL; RHP Reynaldo Garcia (elbow), 60-day DL. Indians - OF Ryan Ludwick (knee), 15-day DL; RHP Jose Jimenez (side), 15-day DL; LHP Jason Stanford (forearm), 15-day DL; LHP Brian Tallet (elbow), 60-day DL; LHP Billy Traber (elbow), 60-day DL; RHP Bob Wickman (elbow), 60-day DL; C Josh Bard (groin), 60-day DL.