SERIES: American League division series; Red Sox lead 1-0.
After watching Curt Schilling slow Anaheim’s lineup in a series-opening 9-3 win Tuesday, Martinez will be looking to halt a personal four-start losing streak—a skid that made it easy for manager Terry Francona to start Schilling in Game 1.
Martinez, a three-time Cy Young Award winner and Boston’s staff ace for the previous six seasons, is anxious to begin with a fresh slate in October.
“I’m not concerned at all,” he said after allowing six runs and 10 hits over five innings in last Wednesday’s 9-4 loss at Tampa Bay. “I would like the results to be better, but I’m healthy and I feel great. I just have to continue to pitch and work hard. Hopefully in the playoffs, it will be different.”
Francona is also confident in Martinez’s ability to turn it on in the postseason.
“I can’t tell you how excited I will be to hand him the ball,” Francona said. “I think there is a little more gamesmanship there with Pedro than maybe people realize. I think people that know him probably understand that. I don’t think his confidence is going to be down going into that game.”
Despite all the optimism, Martinez didn’t just lose his last four starts. He was pounded for 21 runs and 30 hits over 23 1-3 innings during the skid, dropping a pair of crucial games to the New York Yankees that likely cost Boston any chance of winning the AL East.
Yet, Boston leadoff hitter Johnny Damon still believes Pedro will be bounce back Wednesday night.
“You know, I think he is just playing coy maybe, but he is going to be ready to pitch,” Damon said. “He is acting like he doesn’t have much left in the tank but he has been great down there in the clubhouse. He has been talking. He has been having fun. And he is going to be ready to pitch.”
Martinez will have the added burden of trying to outduel fellow Dominican right-hander Bartolo Colon.
Colon, signed as a free agent this past offseason to lead Anaheim’s rotation, has emerged as one of the AL’s top pitchers in the second half. After managing just five victories in 13 decisions prior to the All-Star break, Colon went 13-4 over his final 17 starts, including Friday’s 10-0 victory over Oakland which helped propel Anaheim to the AL West title.
“Pedro and I talk during the offseason, we are close,” Colon said. “He is one of my favorite pitchers to watch. And he is a guy who has always spoken to me about pitching. He has motivated me with his words and the way he speaks to me about approaching the game.
“But I am not going to worry about Pedro. I’m going to worry about the batters.”
Colon will have plenty to worry about.
Kevin Millar and Manny Ramirez homered during Boston’s seven-run, fourth-inning outburst Tuesday as Boston stole home-field advantage from Anaheim. Damon, Ramirez and Millar had two hits apiece as the Red Sox handed the Angels their fourth straight playoff series-opening loss.
The Angels dropped the opener in each of their three series en route to the world title in 2002.
“Hopefully we can bounce back like we did then,” Tuesday’s losing pitcher Jarrod Washburn said.
Schilling knows it won’t be easy to take the first two in Anaheim, but he’s going to enjoy watching Wednesday’s duel.
“We’re up 1-0. Tomorrow’s starters will determine momentum going into the game,” he said. “This is a tough place to win. But we’ve got Pedro going. I’m pretty excited about that.”
HOW THEY GOT HERE: Red Sox - AL wild card. Angels - AL West champions.
PROJECTED LINEUPS: Red Sox: CF Damon (.304, 20 HRs, 94 RBIs, 123 runs, 19 SBs), 2B Mark Bellhorn (.264, 17, 82, 177 Ks), LF Ramirez (.308, 43, 130), DH David Ortiz (.301, 41, 139), 1B Millar (.297, 18, 74) or Doug Mientkiewicz (.219, 1, 10 in 49 games after trade from Minnesota), RF Gabe Kapler (.272, 6, 33) or Trot Nixon (.315, 6, 23), C Jason Varitek (.296, 18, 73), SS Orlando Cabrera (.294, 6, 31 in 58 games after trade from Montreal), 3B Bill Mueller (.283, 12, 57). Angels: 2B Chone Figgins (.296, 5 HRs, 60 RBIs, 34 SBs), 1B Erstad (.295, 7, 69), RF Vladimir Guerrero (.337, 39, 126, 124 runs), CF Garret Anderson (.301, 14, 75), DH Glaus (.251, 18, 42 in 207 ABs), LF Jeff DaVanon (.277, 7, 34, 18 SBs) or Adam Riggs (.194, 0, 3), SS David Eckstein (.276, 2, 35, 16 SBs), C Bengie Molina (.276, 10, 54), 2B Alfredo Amezaga (.161, 2, 11) or Dallas McPherson (.225, 3, 6).
RED SOX PROBABLE STARTING PITCHER: Martinez (16-9, 3.90 ERA). Martinez has dominated the Angels during his career, going 9-1 with a 2.12 ERA in 13 starts. He went 1-0 in two outings against the Angels this year, pitching six solid innings in a 4-2 triumph at Anaheim on July 16 after surrendering seven runs and 11 hits over five innings in Boston’s 10-7 loss on June 2. On the road this year, Martinez went 7-6 with a 4.61 ERA in 17 starts.
ANGELS PROBABLE STARTING PITCHER: Colon (18-12, 5.01 ERA). Colon, who has a 3.64 ERA since July 3, is 6-9 with a 4.06 ERA in 20 career starts against Boston. He went 1-1 in three outings against the Red Sox this year. At home this year, Colon is 10-5 with a 5.42 ERA in 20 starts. In his last home outing, however, Colon was pounded for seven runs and 10 hits over 3 2-3 innings in a 16-6 loss to Seattle. He has not dropped consecutive home starts since June 6-12.
REGULAR SEASON SERIES: Red Sox, 5-4.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Red Sox - The seven-run fourth was the highest-scoring inning in Boston’s postseason history. They had scored six runs in an inning in 1903, 1975 and 1999. … RHP Schilling tweaked his right ankle during Game 1, and said afterward it was a little sore. But he said he doesn’t believe it will create any problems. … Martinez didn’t appear in the interview room before Game 1 as the following day’s starting pitchers usually do, and didn’t join his teammates on the field for the pregame introductions. He was in the dugout during the game. Angels - OF Guerrero went 0-for-5 in his first career playoff game. … RHPs Colon and Martinez also squared off in the 1999 ALDS, when Colon was with the Indians. Neither received a decision in that game as the Indians pulled out a 3-2 victory at Jacobs Field in the series opener. … The Angels and Red Sox shared the league’s highest batting average this year at .282.
POSTSEASON ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Red Sox - 1-0 on the road. Angels - 0-1 at home.