- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
Little had left the decision in the hands of Martinez.
Martinez seized control of the at bat with another 0-and-2 count, getting called strikes on a fastball and a curve. Varitek called for a fastball up and in.
"We've probably thrown Matsui 80 pitches up and in," Martinez says, "and he's never hit that pitch."
Again, Martinez missed slightly with his location. The pitch wasn't far enough inside. Matsui blasted a line drive that bounced into the rightfield stands for a double. The Yankees had runners at second and third. Now Martinez thought for sure he was out of the game. He had thrown 118 pitches, a number that he had reached only five times that year. But Little didn't move.
"I was actually shocked I stayed out there that long," Martinez says. "But I'm paid to do that. I belong to Boston. If they want to blow my arm out, it's their responsibility. I'm not going to go to the manager and say, 'Take me out.' I'm not going to blame Grady for leaving me out there."
Posada had loathed Martinez even before the Game 3 fracas. The two had exchanged heated words that afternoon, and according to Martinez, "Posada started screaming at me in Spanish. He made a comment about my mother. Posada is Latin. He should know, if you don't want to f--- with someone, you don't say anything about their mother." Martinez had turned to Posada, pointed to his head and, he claimed, yelled to him in Spanish, "I'll remember what you said." (Posada denies making any such comment.) The Yankees interpreted Martinez's actions as threatening to hit Posada in the head with a pitch.
Martinez is a renowned bench jockey who enjoys riding opposing players when he is not pitching. He takes particular delight in ribbing Posada, calling him Dumbo, in reference to the catcher's prominent ears. Posada tries so hard to get back at Martinez in the batter's box that he typically fails. He entered last year's postseason 9 for 48 (.188) against Martinez.
Once again Martinez forged a two-strike count. He missed with a cut fastball before throwing three straight curveballs, getting a called strike on the first, missing with the second and getting a swinging strike on the third. Varitek called for a fastball. And for the fourth consecutive time the Yankees jumped on a two-strike fastball for a hit. Posada did not hit it well--the 95mph pitch jammed him--but he did hit it fortuitously. As if by parachute, his little pop fly drifted onto the grass in shallow center.