(Long Island, NY) Pedro Martinez made a triumphant return to Fenway Park on Wednesday evening when he started the middle game of a three-game interleague series. The New York Mets and Boston Red Sox came into battle against each other as first place teams in their respective divisions, and some experts are even saying that this can be a World Series preview. Similar to the great 1986 series between the two clubs, the Red Sox took the first two.
After dropping the opener with the youngster Alay Soler getting lit up, the Mets needed a strong outing from their ace. A hero’s welcome with a standing ovation (which included Sox owner John Henry) quickly changed to cheers for the Red Sox, who started the game with two singles. David Ortiz then hit a come backer that Martinez snared and possibly could have turned a double play with the slow-footed ‘Big Papi’ running. He wheeled and pumped to throw to third, then second, but settled for the out at first. A walk to his buddy Manny Ramirez loaded the bases and set up a sacrifice fly from Trot Nixon to score the first run. His former battery mate, Jason Varitek, then lined a single up the middle to drive in the second run.
The turning point in the game followed when a fly ball was hit to deep left field, but very playable for Mets rookie Lastings Milledge. What should have been ‘a can of corn’ for the third out was dropped and two more runs scored. Milledge will have nightmares of the ‘Green Monster’ after misplaying a similar fly ball the previous game.
The wheels started to come off in the third inning after three base hits and a two-run home run from Alex Gonzalez. Martinez finished the inning but was done for the night with an ugly line of only three innings pitched, seven hits and eight runs. The Fenway Faithful even were chanting ‘Pedro’ mockingly as he struggled.
Emotions may have caught up with Martinez, coming back to a place where he pitched for seven seasons and won a World Series ring. One bad outing does not make a season, and he is still 7-4 after pitching in his shortest outing since 2003. A veteran such as Martinez will put this past him and get back on track to lead the Mets through the summer. If all goes well, he should have an opportunity to redeem himself in September.