'A heck of a show'
Clemens, Pedro Martinez set to battle Saturday
Posted: Friday October 15, 1999 10:06 PM
Clemens will have a lot of friends and family in the stands for his postseason return to Fenway. AP
BOSTON (AP) -- Babe Ruth pitched at Fenway Park in the World Series. So did Christy Mathewson, Bob Gibson and Grover Cleveland Alexander.
And still, this might be the most fascinating matchup ever at the 87-year-old ballpark.
Roger Clemens vs. Pedro Martinez.
"I just hope it lives up to that hype," New York Yankees manager Joe Torre said Friday, a day before Game 3 of the AL Championship Series. "I have a sense it will."
A combined six Cy Young Awards between them, and surely a seventh on the way soon for Martinez. So much more, too, on a fall afternoon in October -- enough to make this a dynamic duel for the ages.
Clemens back on the mound he once ruled, trying to lead the Yankees to a record 13th straight postseason victory and extend their 2-0 edge over Boston.
"It is not business as usual," he said. "I will have so many emotions I'll have to curtail somehow."
Martinez, the new king of the hill, is hoping the Red Sox stop a 10-game ALCS losing streak and revitalize their chances in the best-of-7 series.
"I am not going to change my game because there is more pressure or less pressure," he said. "I hope he puts a lot of pressure on himself."
Even during Friday's relaxed workouts, there was a buzz at the ballpark because of the buildup.
Martinez led the majors in wins (23) and ERA (2.07) and topped the AL with 313 strikeouts. Clemens was just 14-10 with a 4.60 ERA, but carries a huge reputation.
"If you take a Koufax against Marichal, that would be something of this magnitude," Red Sox reliever Rod Beck said.
Only once before in the ALCS or NLCS have two former Cy Young winners started against each other. That was in Game 3 in 1974 when Oakland's Vida Blue beat Baltimore's Jim Palmer by, appropriately, a score of 1-0.
Baseball fans have been treated to plenty of other attractive matchups in postseason play.
In the 1968 World Series, 30-game winner Denny McLain of Detroit faced Gibson, who had a 1.12 ERA for St. Louis.
Since then, there's been Nolan Ryan vs. Palmer, Steve Carlton vs. Don Sutton and Greg Maddux vs. Kevin Brown, among others.
And in the 1986 World Series, it was Clemens vs. Dwight Gooden in a duel between the two best young pitchers in the game.
Now 37, Clemens is 10 years old than Martinez and has five Cy Youngs. The Rocket is 1-0 in three starts at Fenway while with the Yankees and Toronto.
Clemens, who pitched for the Red Sox from 1984-96, was booed at Fenway this summer at the All-Star game when he was introduced on the field as one of the sport's 100 best players of the century.
That probably will not change Saturday.
"I am going to have a lot of familiar faces around, so we will have fun with it," he said. "I think a lot of them are Red Sox fans. I think undercover they are going to be rooting for me, too."
Television viewers will get to find out. Fox, which is broadcasting the game, plans to pass up a commercial break after the top of the first inning in order to show the reaction.
Martinez, meanwhile, is certain to get a huge ovation. Boston fans want him to duplicate his last effort against New York -- he struck out a record 17 Yankees and pitched a one-hitter Sept. 10 in the Bronx.
"The numbers tell you that is probably one of the best games that anybody has ever pitched in that stadium," he said. "But that is gone. I hope I can do it now in the playoffs. That is what counts."
Martinez scared Red Sox rooters when he was forced to leave Game 1 of the division series against Cleveland after straining a muscle below his right shoulder blade. He returned to pitch six innings of hitless relief in the clinching fifth game.
"Well, it is not 100 percent yet," Martinez said. "But after pitching in Cleveland, having seen the result, I don't think I need my full strength to be a pitcher or to be able to beat another team."
Torre, among many others, is eager to see it all unfold.
"I think that is what the goosebumps are going to be about tomorrow," he said. "There is going to be screaming and yelling, just like every time we play here, except again magnified because it is postseason and what it means.
"It is going to be a heck of a show," he said.
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