Grady Little infamously stuck with Pedro Martinez a bit too long.
Six years later, did Charlie Manuel yank Martinez a bit too soon in a crucial playoff moment?
Another manager’s late-inning postseason decision on Martinez is sure to be a hot topic of discussion after the Los Angeles Dodgers’ 2-1 comeback victory over the Philadelphia Phillies in Game 2 of the National League Championship Series on Friday.
“I didn’t ask for anything like (staying in),” Martinez said. “If they asked me to go back, yes, I would have, but they didn’t, and that’s it.”
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In his first postseason start since 2004, Martinez stifled the Dodgers for seven scoreless innings, allowing two hits and overwhelming Los Angeles’ lineup with control and guile.
Martinez threw just 87 pitches and didn’t walk a batter, but Manuel had seen enough, electing to pinch hit for him with Carlos Ruiz on first base and one out in a 1-0 game.
“He was gone,” Manuel said of Martinez.
The move backfired spectacularly, as the Dodgers scored twice in the eighth to even the series at one game apiece.
Pedro looked like the Martinez of 2003, who ran out of gas before he could pitch the Boston Red Sox into the World Series in Game 7 of the AL championship series.
In a move that broke Red Sox fans’ hearts and contributed to Little’s firing soon after, the manager kept a tiring Martinez on the mound with Boston holding a two-run lead and sitting just five outs away from the World Series. The Yankees rallied to tie it against Martinez, and Aaron Boone’s 11th-inning homer off Tim Wakefield sent them into the Series instead.