Making his first World Series appearance in five years, Martinez tries to help the Phillies take a 2-0 lead back to Philadelphia when they face New York in Game 2 on Thursday night at Yankee Stadium.
Hated by Yankees fans while pitching for Boston before spending four injury-plagued seasons with the Mets, Martinez - who turned 38 on Sunday - makes his second career World Series start and first appearance at the new Yankee Stadium.
The right-hander hasn’t pitched in the Bronx since 2005, while a member of the Mets.
Martinez, who pitched seven scoreless innings of three-hit ball to earn the win in Boston’s 4-1 victory at St. Louis in Game 3 of the 2004 World Series, went 8-5 with a 3.21 ERA in 18 career starts at the old Yankee Stadium. That includes an 0-1 mark and 5.40 ERA in two AL championship series starts while with the Red Sox.
He also, though, pitched perhaps the most dominant game of his career there, a 3-1 Boston win Sept. 10, 1999, when he allowed one hit and struck out 17 in a complete-game effort against a New York dynasty at its peak.
“I don’t know if you realize this, I might be at times the most influential player that ever stepped in Yankee Stadium. I can honestly say that,” Martinez said. “I have all the respect in the world for the way they enjoy being fans. Sometimes they might be giving you the middle finger, just like they will be cursing you and telling you what color underwear you’re wearing. But at the end of the day, they’re just great fans that want to see the team win. I don’t have any problem with that.”
That’s why Martinez could thrive under the spotlight as he gets a chance to give Philadelphia a huge advantage after the Phillies’ 6-1 victory in Game 1 on Wednesday.
Philadelphia is trying to become the first NL team to repeat as World Series champion since Cincinnati’s “Big Red Machine” in 1975-76.
A midseason pickup who went 5-1 with a 3.63 ERA in nine starts for the Phillies this year, Martinez is 5-2 with a 3.18 ERA in 12 career postseason starts. He allowed two hits over seven shutout innings of a 2-1 loss at Los Angeles in Game 2 of the NL championship series.
“As you know, I’m older and wiser. I believe my experience played a big role in that,” Martinez said.
Even if Martinez is throwing the ball well, it will be hard to top teammate Cliff Lee(notes), who allowed one unearned run and six hits while striking out 10 while going the distance in a dominating Game 1 performance Wednesday.
Derek Jeter(notes) went 3 for 4 to raise his average to .316 in 33 World Series games, but the rest of the Yankees combined for three hits. Jeter is a lifetime .256 hitter with three homers against Martinez.
Alex Rodriguez(notes), a .291 career hitter versus Martinez, went hitless and struck out three times in his World Series debut. He batted .438 with five home runs and 12 RBIs against Minnesota and Los Angeles earlier this postseason, and still appears confident in his Yankees, who went a major league-best 57-24 at home during the regular season and had won all five playoff games there prior to Wednesday.
“You move on - quick,” Rodriguez said. “You have to have a short memory.”
Burnett, 13-9 with a 4.04 ERA in 33 starts during his first season in New York, makes his World Series debut after recording a 4.42 ERA and not receiving a decision in three postseason starts.
“I’m excited,” Burnett said. “I’m going to prepare, yeah, maybe, as another game, but deep down I know what it’s about. I know how real it is, and I don’t want to change it.”
Burnett is 5-8 with a 4.85 ERA in 16 career starts against Philadelphia, including a 7-3 loss at Yankee Stadium on May 22, when he allowed five runs in six innings.
“We have confidence. We know we have a good team,” said Utley, batting .324 this postseason.
The All-Star second baseman, who hit .282 with 31 homers and 93 RBIs in the regular season, went 3 for 18 against Tampa Bay in last year’s World Series.
“When (Utley) hits .282, if you want to know the truth, I think that’s low for him,” Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. “I think he’s a .300 hitter. I think I said it (Wednesday) or (Tuesday), but he’s probably going to have a good Series.”
Utley is batting .286 with a home run lifetime versus Burnett. Howard has only two hits off the New York starter in 12 at-bats, but both left the park.