AP Photo/Matt Slocum
Pedro Martinez was facing his former team, and looking to officially end their hopes of the postseason. The Mets had nothing left to play for, and Pedro Martinez made sure they knew it. Any Phillies victory against the Mets is special, and there were plenty of them this year. This one basically escorted the playoff atmosphere into Citizens Bank Park, even though it was only September 13.
Pedro Martinez had struggled in the first inning of his past few starts, but quickly retired the Mets, even though he allowed two baserunners. The Phillies also had two early baserunners, but they didn’t waste the chance at scoring. Chase Utley singled home Jimmy Rollins and the Phillies were on the board before an out was recorded. That was the entire offensive highlight of the night, for both teams, for the rest of the game. Pedro shut down the Mets, retiring ten in a row at one point. By the seventh inning, Pedro was over 100 pitches for the night, and appeared to be tiring, but managed to escape a tight spot in the seventh, then returned for the eighth. He was making easy work in the eighth, but a two-out double by Daniel Murphy capped a nine-pitch at-bat. By this point, Pedro was rapidly approaching 130 pitches. Charlie Manuel emerged from the dugout. It appeared to be the end for Pedro Martinez. Then, Manuel left the mound. No signal to the pen, no departure for Pedro Martinez, and a huge ovation from the sold-out crowd. Pedro started Jeremy Reed with a strike. Pedro 130th and final pitch of the night bounced in the dirt, and skipped away from Carlos Ruiz. With just a split-second of hesistation, Murphy dashed toward third, and Ruiz fired a strike to Pedro Feliz for the out. Pedro Martinez had completed the eighth on 130 pitches. He wasn’t a dangerous signing anymore; he was a fan favorite, and the crowd made sure he knew it. Ryan Madson closed out the game and the Phillies had eliminated the Mets from playoff contention with a 1-0 win, securing a sweep of the doubleheader, after winning earlier in the day 5-4.
This game gives you the look and feel of a playoff game, without really being one. If anything, it set the tone for how the Phillies were going to be. They knew they had the pitching, and on a good night, could go the distance if you asked them to. The game was, in a word, exciting. There was plenty of drama, nothing short of what Pedro enjoys. It was the first time we had seen Pedro perfrom like the Hall of Fame pitcher we had seen in a different uniform so many times before. Now, he was on our side, and leading us back to the playoffs.
This game ranks ninth because it had its moments. It’s memorable because it was Pedro’s best start, and the play made by Ruiz to end the eighth is one that stands out on the season. The roar of the crowd was electric, and those are the things you take with you when the season ends. From the moment Charlie Manuel decided to stick with Pedro, even at 128 pitches, you knew there was something special about the game, if he managed to win it. When he did, it became a classic, which allows it to rank ninth on our list of Games of the Year: 2009.