Red Sox improve to 3-3 on critical West Coast road tripPosted: Saturday August 16, 2003 7:44 PM
Updated: Saturday August 16, 2003 9:06 PM
Martinez extended his dominance of the Mariners, pitching three-hit ball for seven innings to lead the Boston Red Sox to a 5-1 victory Saturday. He improved to 11-0 lifetime against Seattle, his most wins against any team.
"A lot of things have to go right for anybody to win that many games," Boston catcher Jason Varitek said. "Your team has to hit, and you've seen us when we don't hit for him. It just happens to be circumstantial."
Martinez (9-3) declined interviews afterward, something he's done often since the All-Star break. It wasn't because he was unable to express himself, according to Red Sox manager Grady Little.
"He does a lot of chirping when he's sitting on the bench, watching a game, or watching it on TV in the clubhouse," Little said. "He does a lot of talking, but all the time he's watching hitters' approaches.
"They change, and he changes, too."
Martinez allowed one run with one walk and seven strikeouts. Kevin Millar hit a solo homer and drove in two runs, while Bill Mueller added three singles as the Red Sox maintained a one-game lead over Oakland in the AL wild card race.
Seattle's lead over the Athletics in the AL West was reduced to four games because Oakland beat Toronto.
With Martinez in control, the outcome swung on a 12-pitch at-bat by Mueller in the third. Seattle starter Joel Pineiro (13-8), who lost his third straight, worked through a 41-pitch inning.
After Damian Jackson singled, Mueller fouled off six two-strike pitches before lining a single to left. David Ortiz hit a two-run double, and Millar brought him across with a sacrifice fly to make it 4-1.
"The turning point was Bill Mueller's at-bat," Varitek said. "It was phenomenal. It ends with a basehit and guys at first and third. It enabled us to get a big inning."
It seemed like Martinez's day before the first pitch. He brought a 0.94 ERA against the Mariners into the game, and he's trailed against Seattle only once -- for one inning on May 12, 2002.
In that game, the Red Sox responded with four runs to erase a 1-0 deficit and went on to win 10-4.
It was a similar script this time.
Seattle led 1-0 in the first after Ichiro Suzuki drew a leadoff walk and scored on Randy Winn's sacrifice fly, but Millar tied it in the second with a home run that curled around the left-field foul pole.
By then, Martinez was in control. Every time the Mariners threatened, he turned them back.
"He's the best," Millar said. "He's got a great changeup, a great breaking ball, and he throws 95 when he needs it. The guy makes good pitches, and there isn't a lot on the plate."
Seattle had runners on first and third with one out in the third, but Martinez struck out Rey Sanchez on a check-swing. Suzuki stole second base, but Martinez got Winn swinging.
"Early on there were some cutters, plus his fastball and changeup," Seattle manager Bob Melvin said. "Then he started throwing his breaking ball and got a big strikeout of Randy with, probably, the first breaking ball he threw."
Martinez mixed it up through the fifth. He allowed a one-out triple by Dan Wilson but came back to strike out Willie Bloomquist on a high fastball. He walked Suzuki but got Sanchez swinging again.
"Once he gets into a rhythm and starts changing his pattern, he's tough to deal with," Melvin said.
The Red Sox also got the benefit of a disputed call in the sixth.
Boston had runners on first and third and one out when Todd Walker grounded to first baseman John Olerud to start an apparent double play. Gabe Kapler was forced out at second, but first base umpire Jerry Meals ruled Pineiro didn't touch the base as he took the return throw.
Millar, who reached on a leadoff single, scored to make it 5-1.
Replays showed Pineiro had not just one foot but two on the bag. Melvin ran from of the dugout to object, and it wasn't long before the rookie skipper had his first bona fide ejection.
"It looked like Joel tripped over the base and he said he straddled it," Melvin said. "If he tripped over it, I don't know how he could have straddled it. Then it looked like the runner missed it."
Notes: Boston SS Nomar Garciaparra was scratched because of spasms in his left lower back. He's day-to-day. ... Seattle RHP Brian Sweeney made his major league debut in the sixth. ... Martinez is 32-4 lifetime against the AL West, including 17-3 on the road. ... Melvin got an automatic ejection July 17 at Kansas City when RHP Rafael Soriano hit a batter with a pitch after warnings were issued to both benches.