Pedro Martinez(notes) has shown that despite not pitching for nearly a year, he can still show flashes of the talent that made him a three-time Cy Young Award winner. Tim Lincecum(notes), meanwhile, is making a very good case for back-to-back NL Cy Young Awards.
On Thursday, Martinez and the Phillies close a three-game series against the San Francisco Giants, who send Lincecum to the mound looking for his 14th win.
Philadelphia (76-54) signed Martinez (2-0, 4.50 ERA) in July and called the 37-year-old right-hander up a month later, hoping the veteran could help a then-struggling rotation.
So far, he’s been a nice surprise. Martinez, who won the Cy Young in 1997 with Montreal and again in 1999 and 2000 with Boston, has pitched well despite returning to the mound last month after a layoff of nearly a year. The Phillies have won all four of his starts.
The kind of talent that Martinez displayed in his prime, Lincecum (13-4, 2.33 ERA) now shows whenever he takes the mound for San Francisco (73-60). Lincecum, who sports the second-lowest ERA in the NL, pitched eight innings of Friday’s 2-0 win over Colorado, allowing four hits while striking out eight.
The right-hander had been 0-1 with a 3.77 ERA in his previous four starts.
Lincecum is 2-0 with a 3.55 ERA in five career starts against the Phillies, allowing two runs in 22 innings over the last three. He pitched eight innings against them Aug. 1 in San Francisco, striking out eight in a 2-0 victory.
Martinez won’t have to worry about fatigue after leaving his start against the Braves on Friday after two innings due to a rain delay. It was the second time that the weather interrupted his start, with both of those shortened outings coming at Citizens Bank Park.
Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said he’s hoping to push Martinez in this outing.
“He’s determined,” Manuel said. “He puts a lot of time in. He works good. If he can get just a little bit strung out, lengthened out, to keep his strength, he’s going to be fine. I think the more that he pitches, the stronger his legs will get. But he’s in much better shape than he was last year.”
The right-hander is 10-2 with a 3.65 lifetime ERA against the Giants, including 5-0 with a 2.27 ERA in six outings since 1996.
Martinez will try to help the Phillies win their third straight home series. San Francisco and Philadelphia have split the first two games, with the Giants winning 4-0 Wednesday. Brad Penny(notes) won in his San Francisco debut - allowing five hits in eight innings - and Juan Uribe(notes) hit a two-run homer in the sixth.
It was only the second time this season the Phillies, who have a 7 1/2 game lead in the East, were shut out at home. They’ve scored 11 runs in their last six games while hitting .240.
“We have trouble manufacturing runs,” Manuel said. “If the right guys don’t get on base and we don’t run, we have a tough time scoring.”
The Giants, who remained one game behind Colorado for the NL wild card, are batting .226 while scoring 20 runs over their last six games but have managed to win four of them.