Pedro endures unceremonious ending
Righty takes loss day after stating influence on Bronx
NEW YORK -- Hopping into an elevator in a brown leather jacket in the concrete corridor of Yankee Stadium, Pedro Martinez made his second premature departure of the evening.
Roughly 2 1/2 hours earlier, Martinez's first departure of the night also came earlier than expected, following four innings that saw him allow four runs on three hits. The damage was done almost exclusively by Hideki Matsui, whose two-run homer in the second put the Yankees on the board, and whose two-run single in the third gave them a three-run cushion the Phillies could not overcome.
Indeed, much of Martinez's postseason career has been defined by his confrontations with Matsui. It was Matsui at the plate when former Red Sox manager Grady Little made his infamous visit to the mound in the eighth inning of Game 7 of the 2003 American League Championship Series. It was Matsui whose subsequent double set the stage for Jorge Posada's game-tying two-bagger a batter later. It was Matsui who greeted Martinez with another double during the pitcher's memorable relief appearance in the same game a year later.
It was Matsui who smashed a game-tying homer off Martinez in Game 2 of this World Series, and, on Wednesday night, it was once again Matsui undermining Martinez on a crisp autumn night in the Bronx.
"It's over with," Martinez said afterward. "He got me, and that's it."
Matsui, who is 4-for-28 off Martinez in the regular season, with just one RBI, is now 9-for-19 off the righty in the postseason, with four doubles, two homers and six RBIs.
Martinez, of course, wasn't the only one Matsui "got" in Game 6; the designated hitter would rip a two-run double in the fifth off J.A. Happ -- the pitcher that was warming up for a possible matchup with Matsui two innings earlier. Matsui finished the night with a record-tying six RBIs and an MVP trophy in his hands.
"He hit everything we threw up there," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "He had a big night."
Matsui had the kind of defining night that Martinez had envisioned for himself a day earlier, when he staged his typically colorful press conference. He spoke about facing his fellow "old goat" Andy Pettitte again and about the excitement he felt for a start that just a few months earlier was practically implausible.
"I don't have enough words to describe how excited I am about being here," Martinez said on Tuesday. "This is just a great gift to me. This is a blessing."
From the beginning of Game 6, though, it was apparent Martinez didn't have his best stuff. He topped out at 84 mph in the first inning, seven mph lower than he was throwing in Game 2. When he did get his fastball up to 89 in the second, it wasn't enough to get by Matsui, who deposited it in the right-field stands.
"The thing I saw with Pedro is he did not have a good fastball," Manuel said. "His fastball wasn't as good as it has been the last two times out if you remember -- 84, 85 [mph] fastballs, he's better than that."
One inning later, Martinez found himself in more trouble. Derek Jeter led off with a sinking fly ball misplayed into a single by Shane Victorino. Martinez then walked Johnny Damon and hit Mark Teixeira to load the bases for Alex Rodriguez. The veteran hurler looked like he might work through it when he froze Rodriguez with a slider on the outside corner for a called strike three and put Matsui in an 0-2 hole.
But Martinez was again betrayed by his fastball -- this time at 90 mph. It caught too much of the outside corner, and Matsui lined it up the middle to plate two more runs.
Martinez retired the next four batters he faced, his last for the evening. He mentioned afterward that he had trouble breathing on the mound in the cold weather, perhaps the residual from the cold that's been plaguing the Phillies' clubhouse the whole Series.
Martinez's teammates didn't get to talk to him following the game, but they were far from disappointed by him.
"He battled. He's a guy that loves the ball and loves this moment," Victorino said. "He did a great job for us this season, and hopefully he'll be back."
Just before he left for good, without a podium and with little personality, Martinez himself addressed his performance.
"I didn't get the performance I wanted and ended up losing the game," Martinez said. "I'm extremely proud, I enjoyed it and I don't regret anything."
Moments later, the elevator door closed, and the self-proclaimed most influential player to ever walk into Yankee Stadium walked out without ceremony.
Tim Britton is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.