Phils' Martinez back on a familiar stage

Chase Utley and Ryan Howard (right) travel down an escalator at 30th Street Station to board a train with their teammates on Nov. 3, 2009.
Chase Utley and Ryan Howard (right) travel down an escalator at 30th Street Station to board a train with their teammates on Nov. 3, 2009.
Posted: November 04, 2009

NEW YORK - This fall, Pedro Martinez has reminded the world of his two defining skills: an ability to outthink great hitters, and an ability to perfectly describe a moment - and perhaps infuse it with a touch of hyperbole.

"Two months back, I was sitting at home not doing anything," he said yesterday at Yankee Stadium. "None of you were asking me questions, and today I am here, probably pitching in one of the greatest games ever in the World Series, two great teams with a whole bunch of legendary players. When you mention Derek Jeter, you mention Alex Rodriguez, [Mark] Teixeira. I see those guys as . . . the next Babe Ruth and Hank Aaron."

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.

Five

CHASE UTLEY, PHILLIES, 2009 (5 GAMES, SO FAR)

Reggie Jackson, N.Y. Yankees, 1977 (6 games)

Four

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.

12

Ryan Howard          Phillies                   2009

Willie Wilson         Kansas City                1980

11

Luis Gonzalez         Arizona                  2001

Damian Miller         Arizona                  2001

Damon Berryhill      Atlanta                  1992

Wayne Garrett         N.Y. Mets               1973

Eddie Mathews      Milwaukee, Braves       1958

10

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 amartino@phillynews.com.

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