NEW YORK (AP)—Pedro Martinez never looked close to tears in his latest playoff tuneup. He never really looked like his old self, either.
“This is what I wanted, regardless of what the results might be,” Martinez said. “I got the innings and I got command of my pitches. That’s what I needed.”
Florida won its second consecutive game following a four-game slide that hurt its postseason chances. The Marlins open a three-game series Friday night in Philadelphia, which is a half-game behind NL wild card-leading Los Angeles. Florida is four back of the Dodgers, who beat the Pirates 5-2 Thursday night.
“Two wins in a row was nice. But we need to beat Philly, that’s the bottom line,” manager Joe Girardi said.
New York already clinched the NL East title earlier this week, so Martinez (9-7) is just trying to get healthy and sharp in time to lead a suspect rotation in October. He’s expected to make only one more regular-season start, next Wednesday in Atlanta.
“I’m really close,” he said. “I’m going to push it in the playoffs.”
The three-time Cy Young Award winner had a disappointing outing in Pittsburgh last Friday night, his first since missing a month with a strained right calf, and was nearly in tears in the dugout after lasting only three innings.
“The first outing, I felt like I had no knowledge of what was going to happen after the first inning,” he said.
But the 34-year-old right-hander got off to a good start in this one. He faced the minimum 12 batters through four innings, striking out five, and got help from his defense in the form of a double play and two diving catches in the outfield.
“I’m extremely happy with the way everything went. I hit a little bit of a wall in the fifth inning,” Martinez said. “Everything seems to be coming along just like I expected.”
Still, Martinez’s mixed comments were difficult to read—as they often are. He also said he was more “cautious” on the mound this time, which he considered wise, and he got “a little stiff, but not bad.”
Furthermore, he definitely doesn’t appear to be pushing off the rubber with the same thrust as usual.
“He does not look completely healthy,” Girardi said. “His arm spot looked a little lower to me tonight, but when it comes to knowing how to pitch, Pedro knows how to pitch.”
Martinez’s goal is to give the Mets seven solid innings in the postseason. With their bullpen, he said, that should be enough.
“From five to seven, that’s not much of a difference,” he said. “I felt like I could’ve done a lot more. You don’t want to rush anything.”
Martinez ran into trouble in the fifth, when he gave up four hits and hit a batter with a pitch. Yet few balls were hit hard against him, and he struck out seven over five innings before leaving for a pinch hitter.
Martinez yielded four runs—three earned—and one walk, throwing 52 of 87 pitches for strikes. He is 2-4 with a 7.47 ERA in seven starts since June 28.
“He looked a lot better than the last time out,” Mets manager Willie Randolph said. “He had that nice feel and presence about him. He was out there competing. So that was very encouraging.”
Sanchez allowed two runs—one earned—and seven hits in his third start since a no-hitter against Arizona on Sept. 6. He’s beaten the Mets twice in those three outings.
Wes Helms added an RBI double in the eighth for Florida.
Florida 3B Miguel Cabrera sat out for the second consecutive game because of a strained left shoulder. … Ramirez nicked his right index finger while trying to bunt in the seventh. He came out in the eighth. … Mets CF Carlos Beltran was out of the lineup again. He said he underwent an MRI exam on Wednesday and has a minor strain in his upper left quadriceps. “Just regular banged-up stuff,” Randolph said before the game. “Nothing major.” … New York C Paul Lo Duca also sat out with a sore left thumb that’s bothered him for much of the season. Kelly Stinnett started behind the plate. … The Mets reached a two-year agreement to make New Orleans in the Pacific Coast League their Triple-A affiliate, ending a long relationship with Norfolk, Va.