The veteran pitcher understands the magnitude of tonight's game. The Phillies defeated the Yankees in Game 5 of the World Series on Monday night, cutting New York's lead to three games to two. Martinez, who pitched well in a Game 2 loss, will be asked to extend his team's season. His reappearance in Yankee Stadium, against hitters and an opposing starter he has faced for more than a decade, will be filled with historical implications.
And if he defeats Andy Pettitte and the Yanks, the Series could become a classic.
"I look at this situation as a blessing," Martinez said. "What else would I want?"
At 38, Martinez has long since lost his best fastball. In Game 2, he handled the Yankees with creative pitch sequences - rather than overpowering hitters, he made them uncomfortable by changing speed and location.
For example, in a first-inning strikeout of old adversary Derek Jeter, Martinez began with four change-ups, all in different spots. He then shifted into an even slower gear, delivering a 70-m.p.h. inside curveball, followed by a 75-m.p.h. outside change-up.
He finished with a hittable 3-2 fastball down the middle of the strike zone, but a disoriented Jeter, who had seen slow and slower, out and in, swung through the pitch.
Martinez said that he did not plan those sequences. "Honestly, you might not believe it, but that's all created in the middle of the moment. What you see is a combination of experience and instinct. It's just instinct, surviving."
Manager Charlie Manuel said he was comfortable asking Martinez to win a crucial game.
"I think you're going to see something close to what you saw the last time out, because the last couple times he's pitched he has been very consistent," Manuel said. "He knows how to pitch. He knows more about hitters than probably people give him credit for, because he will sit there and study the hitters.
"That's one thing I like about Pedro . . . he don't listen when you tell him how to pitch somebody, he'll tell you how he's going to pitch somebody."
Though the matchup between Martinez and Pettitte is appealing, the game could well be determined by the bullpens. Manuel is hoping for six or seven innings from his starter, and Pettitte is pitching on three days' rest, after admitting he felt tired in a Game 3 win.
If Martinez falters earlier, Manuel said, righthander Joe Blanton, who started Game 4, would likely be available in relief. "More than likely he could be for a short period of time probably. We're looking at . . . length-wise maybe two, three innings."
When asked about his late-game pitching options, Manuel reiterated his faith in closer Brad Lidge, despite Lidge's blown save in Game 4.
"I'll always have confidence in him," Manuel said.
Victorino day to day. Shane Victorino, who suffered a bruised right hand when struck by an A.J. Burnett pitch in Game 5, was examined by team medical staff yesterday, and is day to day.
"He'll probably get to the ballpark early tomorrow, and when he first comes in I'll talk to him, and I'll go talk to out trainer," Manuel said. "They said he's going to have some soreness in his finger. We'll see."
If Victorino cannot play tonight, Ben Francisco would probably start in center field, Manuel said.
Home Run Chase
The Phillies' Chase Utley tied Yankees great Reggie Jackson for the most home runs in a single World Series with five. Here are the others who have hit four or more.
CHASE UTLEY, PHILLIES, 2009 (5 GAMES, SO FAR)
Reggie Jackson, N.Y. Yankees, 1977 (6 games)
Babe Ruth, Yankees, 1926 (7 games)
Lou Gehrig, Yankees, 1928 (4 games)
Duke Snider, Brooklyn Dodgers, 1952 (7 games)
Snider, Brooklyn Dodgers, 1955 (7 games)
Hank Bauer, Yankees, 1958 (7 games)
Gene Tenace, Oakland A's, 1972 (7 games)
Barry Bonds, San Francisco Giants, 2002 (7 games)
World Series Strikeouts
In Game 5 Monday, the Phillies' Chase Utley tied former Yankee Reggie Jackson for most home runs in a single World Series (5). One batter later in the seventh inning, the Phillies' Ryan Howard tied Kansas City's Willie Wilson for most strikeouts by a hitter in a single World Series with 12. Here are the players with at least 10 strikeouts in a Series.
Ryan Howard Phillies 2009
Willie Wilson Kansas City 1980
Luis Gonzalez Arizona 2001
Damian Miller Arizona 2001
Damon Berryhill Atlanta 1992
Wayne Garrett N.Y. Mets 1973
Eddie Mathews Milwaukee, Braves 1958
Devon White Florida 1997
Vince Coleman St. Louis 1987
Rich Gedman Boston 1986
Del Crandall Milwaukee 1958
George Kelly N.Y. Giants 1933
Contact staff writer Andy Martino at 215-854-4874 or email@example.com.