CLEVELAND (AP) -- The Boston Red Sox encircled Pedro Martinez in
their clubhouse, pouring champagne on their star pitcher as the
walls shook to a salsa beat.
If Martinez didn't completely exorcise Boston's curse, he
certainly found a temporary cure.
Just three days after he and his team were both counted out,
Martinez brought the Red Sox all the way back.
After dropping the first two games and losing Martinez and Nomar
Garciaparra to injuries, the Red Sox outslugged the Cleveland
Indians 12-8 Monday night to win Game 5 of their first-round
playoff series and advance to an AL Championship Series matchup
with the New York Yankees.
"You might say we're celebrating a little too hard," pitcher Bret Saberhagen said in the middle of the Red Sox party. "But after a series like this, you have to kick off your shoes a little bit."
Making a surprise relief appearance, Martinez pitched six
hitless innings and struck out eight.
"I wouldn't come out," Martinez said. "As long as I was able
to throw the ball over the plate, I was going to stay in there."
Troy O'Leary supplied the offense, twice thwarting the Indians'
strategy of intentionally walking Garciaparra by driving in seven
runs with a pair of homers.
With the shocking win, the wild-card Red Sox will play their
hated rival in the postseason for the first time, starting
Wednesday night at Yankee Stadium.
|Pedro Martinez gets carried off the field after pitching the Red Sox past the Indians.|
It was too early for manager Jimy Williams to begin worrying
about pitching matchups against the defending World Series
"Who (are) we going to pitch?" he said. "What day is it?"
The five games were a blur of comebacks, injuries, pitching
changes and runs, runs and runs -- 79 in all, three short of the
record for postseason series.
O'Leary, who went 0-for-5 in Game 4, hit his slam in the third
and snapped an 8-8 tie in the seventh with a three-run homer as the
Red Sox, trying for their first World Series title since 1918,
became the fifth major league team to rally from an 0-2 deficit in
a best-of-5 playoff series.
Martinez pulled himself from his start in the opener after four
innings with a strained muscle in his back. And it got worse for
the Red Sox when Garciaparra was unable to go in Game 3 because of
an injured wrist.
But Boston pounced on Cleveland's shaky pitching staff, scoring
nine runs in Game 3 before shattering records with their 23-7 rout in Game 4.
But Martinez brought some sanity to a series of atrocious
pitching, putting an exclamation point on his dominating 1999
season. The right-hander, who went 23-4 during the regular season,
will now get a chance to pitch the Red Sox back to the World Series
for the first time since 1986.
"He couldn't even pick up the ball two days ago," Saberhagen
said, "and was almost in tears. He's just the most unbelievable
pitcher I've ever seen in my life."
Meanwhile, the Indians, who have been waiting since 1948 to win
a Series, were denied a third straight trip to the ALCS when their
pitching staff collapsed.
Jim Thome homered twice and Travis Fryman hit a solo shot for
the Indians, who will now spend the winter wondering why they could
never shake an injury bug that plagued them all season.
Cleveland, which lost Game 3 starter Dave Burba to injury, also
watched center fielder Kenny Lofton dislocate his left shoulder
sliding into first base Monday night.
"We were shorthanded, beat up and we still went out and gave a
great effort," Indians catcher Sandy Alomar said. "We battled but
we just got beat. Once they got the momentum, it was like trying to
climb Mount Everest."
Cleveland's offseason also could include an agreement to sell
the team that came within two outs of winning the Series in 1997
and has won five straight AL Central titles.
"I still can't believe we lost," Omar Vizquel said.
With the score 8-8 in the seventh, O'Leary made the Indians pay
for electing to walk Garciaparra again.
Facing loser Paul Shuey, John Valentin singled and, after a
forceout, Indians manager Mike Hargrove decided to walk
Garciaparra, who hit .451 against Cleveland during the regular
season (23-for-51) with 17 RBI in 12 games.
And for the second time, the strategy blew up in Hargrove's
face, with O'Leary hitting Shuey's first pitch over the right-field
wall for an 11-8 lead.
Given the cushion, Martinez took the Red Sox home from there,
fanning Vizquel for the final out to give Boston its first win in a
postseason series since 1986.
Martinez crouched at the edge of the mound and was hugged by
catcher Jason Varitek as the Red Sox poured onto the field to
celebrate a series that three days earlier they couldn't have
O'Leary's slam helped Boston overcome a 5-2 deficit in the third
off starter Charles Nagy, who was pitching on three days' rest for
the second time in his career. Nagy intentionally walked
Garciaparra and grooved a fastball that O'Leary hit over the wall
"We chose to put him on rather than pitch around him tonight,"
Hargrove said. "We had been handling O'Leary up until tonight."
However, the Indians answered against Derek Lowe in the bottom
half, getting an RBI double from Manny Ramirez, who had been
hitless in his first 17 at-bats of the series with seven
Thome then connected for his second homer of the game, a
431-foot shot to center that gave Cleveland an 8-7 lead. It was the
16th career postseason homer for Thome, moving him ahead of Babe
Ruth into third on the career list, trailing only Mickey Mantle and
Reggie Jackson, who each hit 18.
The Red Sox tied it in the fourth on John Valentin's sacrifice
fly, and then turned it over to Martinez. The right-hander, who
could hardly play a game of catch on Saturday, told Red Sox manager
Jimy Williams before the game that he could pitch if needed.
Embarrassed after getting blown out in Game 4, the Indians came
out swinging in the first against Saberhagen, who again
struggled with his control and didn't get out of the second.
Vizquel hit an RBI double, and two outs later, Thome launched a
477-foot homer. As he approached first, Thome screamed at the ball
to get out, and it did -- easily.
The Indians didn't allow Saberhagen to relax in the second as Wil Cordero singled and Fryman homered. Fryman's towering shot was
initially ruled a double, but after Hargrove complained, the
umpires waved Fryman around.
Picking up right where they left off in Game 4, the Red Sox got
to Nagy for two runs in the first on Garciaparra's second homer of
GAME 5 AT A GLANCE
Every game a hero
Troy O'Leary tied a postseason record with seven RBI, but it was Pedro Martinez who turned the lights out on this series. Baseball's best pitcher decided he was sound enough to pitch and delivered six scoreless -- and hitless -- innings of relief for the win.
Two. Number of intentional walks to Nomar Garciaparra.
Two. Number of times Troy O'Leary followed up the intentional walks with home runs.
"My man Troy!"
-- Red Sox GM Dan Duquette, pouring champagne over O'Leary's head. Duquette picked up O'Leary on waivers from the Brewers in 1995.
The teams combined for 79 runs in the series, three shy of
the postseason record set in Pittsburgh's seven-game win over the Yankees in
the 1960 World Series. ... Umpire Durwood Merrill worked first base
in his last game after a 22-year career in the AL. The 63-year-old
Merrill said he will retire to his home in Hooks, Texas. ...
Hargrove, criticized by Cleveland fans and reporters in both cities
for some of his decisions during Games 3 and 4 in Boston, said
injuries dictated most of them. Reliever Steve Reed has a strained
forearm muscle, which limited his use, and Steve Karsay is limited
as he tried to build his arm back up after an injury.
Red Sox vs. Indians series page
O'Leary foils Hargrove's strategy
Stunned Indians can't believe loss
Neyer: Free passes turn deadly
Indians' Lofton dislocates left shoulder
Pedro Martinez talks about his amazing comeback.
wav: 60 k
RealAudio: 14.4 | 28.8 | 56.6
Ramon Martinez says Pedro is the best pitcher in baseball.
wav: 93 k
RealAudio: 14.4 | 28.8 | 56.6
Bret Saberhagen explains Pedro's performance.
wav: 113 k
RealAudio: 14.4 | 28.8 | 56.6