Red Sox 8, Mariners 1
“That guy, right now, he deserves the best,” Ortiz said after the Red Sox ace beat the Seattle Mariners 8-1 on Monday in his first start after being incapacitated by a severe sore throat and fever.
“He’s not even close to being 100 percent. He’s sick for real and he still comes out and gives us his best,” Ortiz said. “I hope the people here in Boston appreciate what he’s done for the ballclub. We get to be around one of the greatest in the game.”
Returning from a throat infection that knocked him out of his last start, Martinez (10-3) allowed one run on six hits and two walks, striking out four. The sellout matinee crowd, sensing that he was done after the sixth inning, gave him a big hand as he left the mound, and the 6-4, 230-pound Ortiz gave him a bear hug on the dugout steps.
Martinez did not comment after the game, as has been his custom this season.
“He gave us everything he had out there tonight and we were proud for him,” Boston manager Grady Little said.
It was Martinez’s 12th consecutive victory over Seattle—the longest such streak in the majors—though his lifetime ERA against them went up from 0.96 to 1.00. Bronson Arroyo pitched three scoreless innings in his AL debut for the save.
Gil Meche (13-10) allowed seven runs on nine hits in 4 1-3 innings for his third consecutive loss.
Boston has won five in a row overall since falling a season-high 7 1/2 games behind the Yankees in the AL East and remained five games behind New York. The Red Sox, who improved to a season-high 21 games above .500, are tied in the AL wild-card race with Oakland and Seattle, who share the AL West lead.
“Chalk it up to a bad trip,” second baseman Bret Boone said. “Go home. Get fresh.”
The Mariners held a team meeting after the game to try to turn things around.
“We just have to realize where we’ve come from,” manager Bob Melvin said. “We’ve got another run in us.”
Ortiz homered for the fourth time in five games and hit a two-run single as the Red Sox scored four in the fifth inning to take a 7-0 lead. Nomar Garciaparra went 3-for-4 for the second consecutive day and scored his 101st run of the season; he has topped 100 in each of his six full seasons.
In the fifth, Todd Walker singled, Garciaparra singled and Ramirez walked before Ortiz singled in two runs. Two outs later, Kevin Millar doubled off reliever Kazuhiro Sasaki to score two more runs and make it 7-0.
Martinez’s start capped a crazy week that started when the Red Sox ace skipped the team photo last Wednesday—the fourth time in the past six years he has done so. That became a bigger issue when he woke up with a severe sore throat and a fever on Thursday.
Martinez was examined at the hospital and scratched from his scheduled start, not to return to the ballpark until Saturday. Although no one—except perhaps a few fire-breathing talk radio callers—doubted the severity of his illness, Martinez reportedly grew angry that his integrity had been questioned.
Later, through a team spokesman, the pitcher denied the comments attributedto him by a radio reporter.
Ortiz is the sixth Red Sox player with 20 homers this season, a club record. He joins Ramirez (31), Trot Nixon (24), Garciaparra (22), Millar and Jason Varitek (21 apiece). Bill Mueller has 16. The major league record is seven players, set by the 1996 Orioles and matched by the 2000 Blue Jays. … The 20 homers matches Ortiz’s career high. … Meche is attempting to become the first pitcher since 1956 to win 14 games after missing two straight seasons. He had arthroscopic surgery on his right shoulder. … It was the sixth time in seven games the Red Sox have chased the opposing starter before the sixth inning. … Mariners starters have a 3-9 record and 6.40 ERA in their last 14 games. … Edgar Martinez missed his second consecutive game after fouling a ball off his toe. … The six consecutive losses is a season high forthe Mariners.