He’ll try to enhance that reputation in his first Subway Series start for the New York Mets when the crosstown rivals complete a three-game set at Shea Stadium.
Martinez was originally slated to start the series opener Friday. Instead, he took a cortisone injection for an inflamed right hip earlier in the week, and reported no discomfort during a side throwing session Thursday, clearing the way for his start in the finale.
Martinez was the centerpiece of the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry after arriving in Boston in 1998, sparking bench-clearing brawls, throwing former Yankee coach Don Zimmer down in an infamous postseason skirmish and delivering a steady dose of controversial quotes.
He helped the Red Sox into three playoff series against the Yankees, losing the first two before Boston finally ended the dreaded “Curse of the Bambino” with an unprecedented comeback from an 0-3 deficit in last year’s AL championship series.
One of the most dominant pitchers of his era, Martinez has not been able to impose his will on the Yankees, going 10-10 with a 3.24 ERA in 28 career regular season starts. He is 1-2 in seven postseason outings against the Yankees, including 0-1 in two playoff starts last October.
Last September, Martinez grew so frustrated over his lack of success against the Yankees that he conceded they had his number.
“What can I say—just tip my hat and call the Yankees my daddy,” he said. “I can’t find a way to beat them at this point. … They’re that good. They’re that hot right now—at least against me. I wish they would disappear and not come back.”
Now, he’ll have a chance to end a five-start winless streak against the Yankees, dating to April 25, 2004, and give the Mets the series win.
“I’m excited to go out there and pitch,” Martinez said, perhaps reserving his more compelling commentary for after the game.
The Yankees took advantage of several Mets miscues to win the opener 5-2 on Friday night, but the home team bounced back with a convincing 7-1 victory Saturday.
The Yankees have dropped two of three since reeling off a season-high 10 straight wins. They are in danger of losing their second straight series at Shea Stadium. Last July, the Mets swept a three-game home set from the Yankees, taking the season series 4-2.
Each team lost a star player to injury Saturday. Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter left in the sixth after he was hit on the left elbow by Benson’s pitch. X-rays were negative and he is day-to-day.
Mets center fielder Carlos Beltran came out after the fifth because of a strained right quadriceps. And second baseman Kaz Matsui departed in the sixth with a strained upper back. He and Beltran are also day-to-day.