April 8, 2020

Watch Pedro Strikeout 17 Yankees At 1:00 PM Today/Thursday (Streaming @ MLB.com)

Pedro Martinez's 17-strikeout game against the Yankees on Friday, September 10, 1999, will be streamed live on MLB.com at 1:00 PM ET on Thursday. (It is also here!)

Pedro pitched a complete-game shutout. But that undersells the game by about a factor of 100.

One hit, no walks, and a career-high 17 strikeouts. No pitcher had ever struck out 17 Yankees in a nine-inning game. It is the only 9-1-1-0-17 pitching line in baseball history.

Pedro retired the last 22 batters after Chili Davis homered in the second inning. Boston won 3-1.

The Yankees led 1-0 after five innings. But Nomar Garciaparra walked to open the top of the sixth and Mike Stanley homered on a full-count pitch from Andy Pettitte.

Through five innings, Pedro had struck out eight. Not a bad night at all. But immediately after Stanley gave him a 2-1 lead, Pedro put his game into another gear. It was a gear Martinez, one of the greatest pitchers the game will ever see, rarely reached. By the time Pedro wrapped things up, the capacity crowd of 55,239 at Yankee Stadium was cheering like maniacs and chanting his name.

Scott Brosius started the bottom of the sixth by lining Pedro's first pitch to Troy O'Leary in left-center. The Yankees trailed by only one run and they had a win probability percentage of 37%. The defending world champions had 11 outs to play with, but this game was over.

Brosius's lineout was the home team's last fair ball of the evening. The Yankees could not hit a fair ball on any of Pedro's final 53 pitches.

Brosius lined out to left.
Joe Girardi (ssffb) struck out looking.
Chuck Knoblauch (bbcb) fouled out to third.

Derek Jeter (bfcfbffb) struck out looking.
Paul O'Neill (bfbbf) struck out swinging.
Bernie Williams (cc) struck out swinging.

Tino Martinez (bb) fouled out to first.
Chili Davis (cfb) struck out swinging.
Ricky Ledee (sbs) struck out swinging.

Brosius (csb) struck out swinging.
Darryl Strawberry hit for Girardi.
Strawberry (bcf) struck out swinging.
Knoblauch (cbcf) struck out swinging.

Over the final four innings, Pedro faced 12 batters and struck out nine of them. He fanned eight of the last nine batters he faced. He finished with a pitch count of 120.

Pedro faced 28 batters. Knoblauch was hit by an 0-1 pitch in the first and was thrown out trying to steal second. Every Yankee struck out at least once. Five of them struck out twice and one (Ledee) struck out three times.

When you talk about The Pedro Game ... it turns out there are several The Pedro Games.

My Game Story:
I was supposed to be at this game. I programmed our VCR and Laura and I took the subway from Washington Heights to the Bronx. Someone she knew from work was going to meet us with the tickets. The seats were in the upper deck, down the left field line. We waited. And we waited. I like to get to my seat with enough time to get my scoresheet ready. That would not happen tonight. We could hear the game starting inside the stadium. Shit. We waited some more. Cell phones did not exist. Where was this fucking guy? Working late? We paced around, listening to periodic cheering from the game. Finally, we gave up and walked back to the subway station along the now-empty sidewalk across the street from the game. We got home in the fourth inning. The VCR was whirring away. And we watched the rest of the game on TV.
This blog was about four years in the future. But here is a little bit of schadenfreude:

Buster Olney, New York Times:
Hitters gossip on the Yankees' bench during games, sharing information about the opposing pitcher's flaws. But there was no free-flowing exchange of thought last night, no tips, no insight. They said nothing in the dugout because there was nothing to say. Boston's Pedro Martinez humbled the Yankees in their home park in a manner never seen before.

Martinez struck out 17, the most ever against the Yankees, and Chili Davis had the Yankees' only hit, a home run, as Boston prevailed, 3-1. Martinez faced 28 batters, one over the minimum, and those making the loudest noises among the 55,239 at Yankee Stadium were Red Sox fans. Boston pulled to within five and a half games of the Yankees in the American League East, hoisted almost single-handedly by a pitcher with a sagging face, the body of an oversized jockey, and an arm and confidence of a comic book superhero. ...

Jimy Williams, the Boston manager, said it was the best pitching effort he had ever seen. David Cone agreed, less than two months removed from throwing a perfect game. Joe Torre, the Yankees' manager, mentioned Bob Gibson and Sandy Koufax as he drew comparable efforts from his memory.

Said Martinez: "This is as good as it gets, I won't lie."

As if he could fool anybody. As if the Yankees had any chance. Derek Jeter was Martinez's first strikeout victim, on a 97 mile-an-hour fastball in the first inning, and Chuck Knoblauch was his 17th, the last out of the game, on a 97 m.p.h. fastball. Every Yankee hitter struck out at least once ...

It was as if the Yankees were swinging within a darkened closet, for Martinez was throwing all three of his pitches for strikes. His fastball was moving, Tino Martinez said, and he was spinning his curveball for strikes, and when you looked for the fastball, he would then throw his changeup, the ball dropping away as if Pedro Martinez were manipulating it like a marionette. ...

Martinez bounced his second pitch off Knoblauch's arm, but the Yankees' leadoff hitter was almost immediately thrown out stealing. Martinez then registered his first strikeout, of Jeter: in a sequence of three pitches, he ratcheted the velocity of his fastball from 93 to 95 to 97 m.p.h. Nobody was saying anything in the Yankees' dugout.

Martinez made perhaps his only mistake in the second inning, a fastball that tailed over the middle of the plate -- a pitch Davis anticipated, and whacked deep into the bleachers in right field. Later, Jeter would say, "We didn't have anybody on base -- except Chili, who was on base for about five seconds."

But Martinez threw a curveball to strike out Ledee and end the second inning, and there was a sense in the Yankees' dugout, Torre said, that the one run would be the only support Andy Pettitte would get. Scott Brosius struck out on a 95 m.p.h. fastball in the second, and Joe Girardi whiffed on a curveball; Tino Martinez, Davis and Ledee all whiffed in the fifth inning, the first of three innings in which the Boston pitcher struck out the side. ...

Pettitte walked Nomar Garciaparra to lead off the sixth and then Mike Stanley launched a home run into the right-field stands. Boston led, 2-1; it felt as if the score was 10-0, Torre said, with Martinez defending that lead.

Jeter, O'Neill and Bernie Williams, who may combine for about 600 hits this year [They finished with 591], struck out in order in the seventh, and Davis and Ledee were cut down in the eighth, Martinez's 13th and 14th strikeouts. A contingent of fans in the right-field stands -- fans of Martinez, waving the flag of the Dominican Republic -- cheered loudly. Somebody had been hanging K's for Martinez at the front of the stands above the left-field line, but those were ripped down.

The Red Sox scored another run in the top of the ninth, giving them a 3-1 lead. ...

Brosius swung and missed at a curve leading off the ninth. Strawberry pinch-hit for Girardi, and later, he smiled slightly when asked about his plan for his at-bat. "I didn't really have a plan," Strawberry said. "I had no clue."

He struck out on four pitches, the last a high fastball. Knoblauch was next. Martinez, who finishes as well as any pitcher in the game, was rocking and firing, and there was no doubt he would try to blow his fastball past the second baseman. He reached a 1-ball, 2-strike count, and Knoblauch fouled off a high fastball. Martinez threw another, Knoblauch swung and missed, and Martinez aimed two hands toward the sky jubilantly. ...

The Yankees' hitters showered and dressed rapidly, spoke softly and departed quickly from the clubhouse. There wasn't much to say.
Joel Sherman, Post:
This is how good Pedro Martinez was last night: David Cone's perfect game became the second-best pitching effort at Yankee Stadium this season.

Whatever Martinez lacked in being flawless, he more than compensated for in the degree of difficulty when you factor in the opponent, the hostile atmosphere, the time of year and the importance of the game. Cone's perfecto July 18 was against the lowly Expos, in his home stadium and without the overt stress of a pennant race. No Montreal batter had ever hit against Cone, providing a huge edge for the crafty righty.

The veteran Yankee lineup came in with 115 career at-bats against Martinez and that did not stop them from managing just two baserunners and striking out a franchise-record 17 times. That Martinez did this in the second week of September, in the Bronx and with his Red Sox team looking for him to lead it to the playoffs only amplifies an effort that is under-described by the word dominant.

"That is the best pitching performance I've ever seen. Ever," Red Sox pitching coach Joe Kerrigan said after Boston's 3-1 victory. "I've been in the game for 26 years and I've seen thousands of games in person and on television and that was the best ever."

Martinez's effort kept the Red Sox three games ahead of Oakland in the wild-card hunt. It also moved them within 5 games of the Yankees. Hideki Irabu brings his suddenly shaky repertoire to the mound today. ...

The whole league should be massed in its efforts to keep the Red Sox out of the playoffs. Unless facing the AL's most overpowering player in a short series excites you.

"We can do anything in a short series," Martinez said. "We just need our chance to get into the playoffs."

Martinez is making his playoff and MVP push, since the AL Cy Young already is a lock. In his last four starts, he is 4-0 with a 0.58 ERA. That is two earned runs in 31 innings for those who want to check the math. And in those 32 innings, opponents have managed 11 hits and struck out 58 times. ...

"For six months now and after 10 or 11 games, I've said this is the best game I've ever seen Pedro pitch," Kerrigan said. "Then he goes out and tops it."

A reporter than said, "It would be hard to top this."

Kerrigan laughed and replied, "I've heard that before, too."

But it really is hard to conceive how Martinez can be better than he was last night when he spotted his mid-90 mph fastball to both sides of the plate and was precise with his changeup and curve. He hit Chuck Knoblauch with his second pitch of the game, though Martinez disputed that the ball grazed the Yankee leadoff hitter, saying, "I thought he faked it pretty good." In the second inning, Chili Davis golfed a low fastball into the bleachers for a 1-0 Yankee lead. And that was it for the Yankees.

Their remaining hitters went 0-for-22 with 15 strikeouts and one hard-hit ball – Scott Brosius' liner to left in the sixth inning. Mike Stanley's two-run homer gave Martinez a lead. Then, in the top of the seventh, Boston loaded the bases with no out and did not score. The Yankees should have had all the momentum going into the bottom of the inning, especially with their 2-3-4 hitters up.

Martinez, though, struck out Derek Jeter, Paul O'Neill and Bernie Williams. Jeter waged a terrific nine-pitch at-bat, O'Neill a fine six-pitch at-bat and Williams struck out on three pitches. That began a spurt in which Martinez struck out eight of the final nine batters he faced. Knoblauch was the only Yankee who did not whiff over the first eight innings. But after Martinez fanned Brosius and pinch-hitter Darryl Strawberry to open the ninth, he threw a high fastball – pitch No. 120 – by a swinging Knoblauch for his career-high 17th strikeout. Martinez has struck out in double-digits 16 times this year, compared to six by the entire Yankee rotation.

Martinez' brilliance has been essential in a surprising Red Sox season. They lost Mo Vaughn to free agency in the offseason. That meant Martinez, Nomar Garciaparra and Tom Gordon needed to excel and go injury-free for Boston to seemingly have a chance. But Gordon was lost for the season in mid-June, Garciaparra has missed two extended periods with injuries and his run-production numbers are down from last season. And even Martinez spent a few weeks on the DL. In addition, he fought with management when Jimy Williams started someone else when Martinez arrived late to the park.

But the Red Sox have navigated all the injuries helped by Tim Wakefield and now Derek Lowe filling the closing role in Gordon's absence while Stanley and Daubach have helped Red Sox first baseman hit .280 with 28 homers and 85 RBIs in place of Vaughn. ...

They no longer have Mo. But the Red Sox are another team that has Mojo here in September. More important, they are the only one with Pedro.
Kevin Kernan, Post:
Like a tag-along younger brother, an old girlfriend still carrying a torch or a grumpy boss who happens to be the owner's son, these Red Sox just won't go away, not with Pedro Martinez in command.

The Yankees went into last night's game at the Stadium hoping to put away Boston. Instead, they ran into the buzzsaw that is Martinez, who exploded for one of the all-time great pitching performances against the Bombers in a 3-1 victory. The Red Sox came away with another nine innings of courage and now trail the Yankees by 5 games with 20 to go.

Martinez struck out a career-high 17 batters (the most ever against the Yankees in a nine-inning game) and allowed just one hit, a home run by Chili Davis in the second. That was the Yankees' first and last hit and their last base-runner as Martinez retired the final 22 men he faced.

Told that the 17 Ks were a record, Yankee first baseman Tino Martinez shook his head and said, "Wow. I'm just glad we got a hit."

He wasn't kidding. Martinez had perfect stuff and perfect command. His last pitch was clocked at 97 miles per hour.

"I played against the Mets when Doc [Gooden] struck out 16 Giants. [Martinez] was that on," Davis said. ...

Martinez' 17th strikeout came on a blazing high fastball that Chuck Knoblauch missed. Martinez struck out the final five batters and eight of the last nine. After Scott Brosius lined to left for the second out of the sixth, the Yankees did not hit a fair ball the rest of the night. [It was the first out.] ...

The last time the Yankees were held to one hit was May 27, 1995 in Oakland by Steve Ontiveros. This marked only the third time in the '90s the Yankees were held to a single hit.

Martinez struck out the side in the fifth, seventh and ninth. Only four Yankees hit the ball out of the infield and other than Davis' home run 10 rows deep into the right-field bleachers, the only other hard hit ball was Brosius' liner.

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