Back in New York for the final leg of the ALCS, Martinez did not leave his hotel room. He finally got some sleep before Game 7, and not long after he woke up, he ate lunch in his room. A friend brought Dominican food to him. He watched some television to kill time, then made sure to take the team bus to the ballpark. He wasn't comfortable taking a taxi.
"People said I should be in jail because of the Zimmer stuff," Martinez says. "The fans were saying they were going to bring rocks and batteries. Ramon [Martinez, his brother] wanted to come, but I said, 'Stay in Boston. Anything could happen.'"
Burkett, knowing this was likely to be his final season, had toted a video camera throughout the playoffs. The tape was rolling in the clubhouse before Game 7. One of his favorite images, taken unobtrusively, is of Martinez, sitting alone, facing into his locker, his face taut with concentration and anxious anticipation.
Clemens and Martinez had combined for 476 wins, second most ever for two Game 7 starters. Clemens would be gone in the fourth, down 4--0 and leaving a no-outs and first-and-third mess. Mike Mussina, having never pitched in relief in his 400game pro career, escaped with a strikeout and a double-play grounder.
Out by out, Martinez drew Boston closer to the finish. The Red Sox paradox is that each out brings the club as close to infamy as it does to fulfillment.
"As Game 7 was going on, the drama kept building," Burkett says. "You have people on our team thinking, I don't want to be the one to make the mistake. You know, the Bill Buckner thing. I'm sure it entered people's minds."
After Johnson popped up for the first out of the eighth, Martinez jumped ahead of Derek Jeter, 0 and 2, with fastballs. Catcher Jason Varitek called for another fastball, wanting it so far out of the strike zone that he was nearly standing when he gave the target. Martinez threw to the spot, up and away, but Jeter smacked the pitch to rightfield on a line. Rightfielder Trot Nixon misjudged the ball, and by the time he realized his mistake it was too late. It sailed over his head for a double.
In the immediate aftermath of the game, one of the Red Sox players would grab a reporter and ask, "Was Jeter's ball catchable?" Told that it was, he sighed, crestfallen, "I thought so."
Embree was still throwing in the bullpen, but with switch-hitting Bernie Williams at bat and the lefthanded Matsui on deck, no help came for Martinez. Fox analyst Tim McCarver noted, "You get the feeling [Embree] will be the pitcher against Matsui one way or the other."
Martinez worked to a two-strike count again, this time 2 and 2, and again could not finish off the hitter. Williams drove home Jeter with a hard single off a 95-mph fastball that caught too much of the plate. As expected, Little left the dugout and walked to the mound. Unexpectedly, he returned without Martinez. Writers in the press box above the field howled, "What is he doing?"