Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez Wasn’t a Phillie for Long, But He Made an Impact

Yesterday, Pedro was voted to the Baseball Hall of Fame. He only pitched 12 games for the Phillies, but those games sure were eventful.

Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Pedro Martinez (45) greets second baseman Chase Utley (26) in the dugout prior to the game against the Colorado Rockies at Citizens Bank Park in August of 2009.

Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Pedro Martinez (45) greets second baseman Chase Utley (26) in the dugout prior to the game against the Colorado Rockies at Citizens Bank Park in August of 2009.

Pedro Martinez was on the mound. There was a runner on second. The Mets were a hit away from tying the game. And Charlie Manuel was headed out of the dugout.

It was 2009. The Phillies manager had a brief conversation with Martinez, then walked back to the dugout. Martinez would be staying in. The fans roared. Two pitches later, Daniel Murphy was caught trying to advance to third on a ball in the dirt. Martinez was out of the inning. Fans screamed. “The stadium shook that night,” the Daily News’ David Murphy wrote, “the air reverberating with the collective energy of 42,000 people realizing that they were witnessing somebody do the something that makes them special.”

It turns out Martinez didn’t need to plead much with Manuel on the mound. “I was keeping him in anyway,” Manuel said. “I had to see what he was going to say.” Ryan Madson pitched a scoreless ninth and the Phillies beat the Mets, 1-0. Martinez got the win after throwing 130 pitches over 8 innings. He struck out seven. It was his best game as a Phillie. It was his last win in baseball.

Pedro celebrates in 2009

The Baseball Writers Association of America inducted Pedro Martinez and three others into the Hall of Fame yesterday. Nationally, Martinez will not be remembered much for his time with the Phillies. His biggest moments and best seasons came with Boston — his numbers in the late 1990s and early 2000s are so good they seem fake — and he played longer for the Expos, Mets and Dodgers.

But, here in Philadelphia, we can focus on his brief stint. It’s amazing how much happened in Martinez’s time with the Phillies. In his first start, Martinez went five innings and gave up three runs. No matter: The Phillies hit two three-run homers in the same inning and blasted the Cubs, 12-5. In just his third game, Martinez’s win was saved when Eric Bruntlett turned an unassisted triple play — just the 15th in modern baseball history. Against the Giants, Martinez out-dueled Tim Lincecum in a 2-1 win in San Francisco. “It’s ridiculous how nasty his stuff still is,” said Lincecum, who won his second consecutive Cy Young that season. At one point in that game, Martinez retired 13 straight batters.

Not all of these moments were due to Martinez personally, but he did seem to make things more fun. He was just so likable. After the Phillies won the pennant, Comcast SportsNet’s Marshall Harris attempted to interview him: “I know you’re thinking about, right now, the moment, championships—”

Pedro interrupted him. “No, I’m actually thinking about getting you wet because you’re kinda dry.”

Pedro pours champagne

He then poured Champagne over Harris’ head.

It was a time, not that long ago, when things were fun for Philly sports fans. The Phillies seemed magical. Pedro, however briefly, was part of that. A year off their World Series win, Phillies’ pitchers were struggling. Ruben Amaro — then a new, widely praised GM — got Cliff Lee and Pedro Martinez. Martinez pitched nine regular season games for the Phillies. He threw 44 innings, struck out 37 and walked 8. The Phillies went 8-1 in his starts.

Things didn’t work out in the playoffs. The Phils lost all three playoff starts Martinez made, including the deciding game of the World Series. If that’s how you look at it, then the Martinez signing didn’t work out. But when one of the greatest pitchers of all time enters the Hall of Fame later this year, Phillies fans get to call him one of our own — if only for 12 games.

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