On a night when history filled every crooked corner of Fenway Park, Pedro Martinez left his own mark on the mound.
Moments after a tearful Ted Williams threw out the first ball, Martinez pitched himself into the All-Star Game record book Tuesday night by striking out the first three hitters. He added a fourth straight, Mark McGwire, for good measure.
Mixing a blazing fastball, darting curve and tantalizing changeup, Martinez fanned five in two innings, leading the American League over the Nationals 4-1 for its third straight win.
With Hall of Fame pitchers Bob Feller, Warren Spahn and friend Juan Marichal looking on, Martinez did something that no one -- not even the great Carl Hubbell -- had ever done.
"I think it makes it a little more special, being here in Boston," Martinez said after winning the MVP award. "Representing the decade, the last one of the century. Being there with all those players around us, I never, never expected it."
Martinez fanned Barry Larkin, Larry Walker and Sammy Sosa to start the game. The Boston ace, already halfway to the magic 30-win mark at the break, kept up the streak by striking out McGwire to begin the second inning.
After Matt Williams reached on an error by second baseman Roberto Alomar, Martinez got Jeff Bagwell on a 3-2 curve. And when Williams was caught stealing on the play, Martinez walked off to a standing ovation, the hometown hero finished after 28 memorable pitches.
"After seeing the guys in BP and in the home-run contest, I knew I had to get my pitches where I wanted or else I was going to get hurt," he said.
Martinez tied an al record with his five strikeouts and became the first AL starter to win an All-Star Game in his own park. And he did it on a night when the greatest living players in baseball had come together for the final All-Star game of the 1900s.
Stan Musial, Willie Mays and Hank Aaron were among the many honored as part of an AlCentury team in a moving pregame tribute. As the sport's past met its present and future, the biggest ovation was left for Boston's own Splendid Splinter.
Williams waved his cap to the standing crowd of 34,187 as a golf cart drove him around the park and to the mound. Ken Griffey Jr., Tony Gwynn and every other player -- retired and active -- closed in around him for a baseball embrace.
"I can only describe it as great," said The Kid, now 80. "Hell, I haven't had a basehit in 30 years, and I'm a better hitter now than I've ever been in my life."
Maybe a bit more emotional, too.
"When I got up there, tears were coming out of Ted's eyes," Walker said. "I kind of turned away, it almost brought tears to my eyes. The greatest player in the world is surrounded by more great players. I know Ted was extremely touched by it."
Though the green monster was never a factor -- no one came close to hitting the famed left-field wall -- the AL got enough offensive support from Cleveland's quartet of starters in cutting its deficit to 40-29-1.
"Last game of the century. Boston. Fenway Park. A lot of nostalgia," AL manager Joe Torre said. "The weather cooperated. It was great."
|Boston great Ted Williams still has enough arm to reach the plate.(AP)|
Curt Schilling, whom the Indians would like to trade for, took the loss.
"How do I follow that?" he said of Martinez's performance.
The teams combined for a record 22 strikeouts, including 12 by AL pitchers, to break the mark of 21 in 1984.
The NL got seven hits off the AL staff of Martinez, David Cone, Mike Mussina, Jose Rosado, Roberto Hernandez, Texas rookie Jeff Zimmerman and his Rangers teammate John Wetteland, who pitched the ninth for a save.
Kenny Lofton led off the AL first with an infield hit, Indians teammate Manny Ramirez walked with two outs and Cleveland's Jim Thome hit an RBI single.
"You'd almost think it's a regular season game because that's happened a lot this year," Thome said.
Baltimore's Cal Ripken, a 17-time All-Star, followed Thome's hit with an RBI single for a 2-0 lead.
After the nl scored against cone in the third on a double by Jeromy Burnitz and a single by Larkin, the AL added two runs in the fourth off St. Louis 14-game winner Kent Bottenfield.
Thome walked, Ripken was hit by a pitch and Rafael Palmeiro, starting in place of injured DH Jose Canseco, hit an RBI singl. One out later, Alomar drove in a run with a grounder that eluded Matt Williams at third base for an error.
By then, it was 4-1 and the bats were finished for the night. Much like the 1961 All-Star game at Fenway, when the pitchers dominated in a 1-1 tie, called after nine innings because of rain.
- The NL starting lineup was 30-for-145 (.207) with 49 strikeouts against Martinez in regular-season play.
- In the first meeting of former Seattle teammates, Griffey grounded out against Randy Johnson.
- Next year's All-Star Game is at Turner Field in Atlanta.
- Martinez tied the AL strikeout record set by Dick Radatz and Billy Pierce. The overall record is six, done several times.
- Boston SS Nomar Garciaparra, who had not played in nine games because of a groin injury, played three innings. He went out to his position in the fourth, then was replaced by Derek Jeter. The two hugged and Garciaparra left to a standing ovation.
- Torre intended to use Anaheim's Troy Percival to get the final out, but Jeff Kent grounded into a double play.
©1999 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed