- The Washington Times - Monday, April 8, 2002

BALTIMORE Pedro Martinez wants you to know that he's just fine, thank you very much. That Opening Day fiasco in Boston? A fluke, a bad outing, a rough way to start the season.
But hardly cause for panic among the rabid members of the Red Sox Nation.
No, yesterday was more like it a six-inning, three-hit masterpiece that led Boston to a 4-1 victory and a three-game sweep of the offensively challenged Baltimore Orioles.
"I hope that everyone will chill," Martinez said. "I'm not at 100 percent strength yet, but I'll get there."
The three-time Cy Young Award winner put a scare into Red Sox fans throughout New England last Monday when he was pounded by the Toronto Blue Jays for seven earned runs and nine hits in three innings. Observers wondered whether the shoulder injury that limited Martinez to 18 starts last season was still a problem and whether the slight right-hander would ever be the same pitcher again.
He sure seemed to answer that question yesterday. The Martinez who showed up at Camden Yards looked a lot like the one who has terrorized major league hitters for years, not the one who couldn't make it out of the fourth inning on Opening Day.
"The reports we were getting was that his fastball was not as explosive as it had been and that his command was iffy," Orioles manager Mike Hargrove said. "We saw a little bit of the command thing, but he looked like he had a pretty good fastball today. He was a better pitcher than I heard he was six days ago."
With a fastball that routinely hit 95 mph on the stadium radar gun, Martinez eased his way through the slumping Orioles' lineup. He allowed two doubles and an infield single and retired the last seven batters he faced before Boston manager Grady Little pulled him from the game.
Six strong innings were enough to give Martinez his first win since May 30 and improve his career record against Baltimore to 4-1 with a 1.99 ERA.
"One win is not [everything]. It's a long season," he said. "I've never been in this situation before. This whole year is going to be a process.
"My health, thank God, I believe it's here."
The Orioles, who have lost five straight since winning on Opening Day, appeared utterly lost against Martinez, striking out five times against the Red Sox ace in six innings while putting just four men on base.
"I know there were question marks about his health all winter," said designated hitter David Segui, who went 0-for-4. "And that's probably the only reason that his bad start was that big of a deal. I've seen him better, but he was pretty [darn] good."
A date against one of baseball's most dominating pitchers was the last thing the Orioles needed considering the way they've swung the bat this week. With one run and six hits yesterday, Baltimore has now totaled four runs and 22 hits in five games.
Thanks to a pair of ninth-inning base hits by Jeff Conine and Jay Gibbons who accounted for half of the Orioles' offense with three hits the team batting average actually went up from .162 to .167.
"We're six games into the season. I'm not going to panic," Hargrove said. "We've got a ballclub that played well in spring training. We've got good hitters in our lineup, and we've got to give them time to find their stroke."
Baltimore had a few chances to cut into the lead once Martinez left the game, but reliever Rolando Arrojo got Segui to fly out with two on and two out in the eighth, and closer Ugueth Urbina escaped a two-on, one-out jam in the ninth to notch his third save in as many days.
The Red Sox didn't exactly knock around the Orioles' pitching staff, but third baseman Shea Hillenbrand took care of everything they needed by homering twice off Baltimore starter Calvin Maduro. Hillenbrand smoked a 1-0 pitch from Maduro to left-center in the second for a two-run shot, then duplicated the feat his next time up in the fourth.
It was an inauspicious season debut for Maduro, who was activated off the 15-day disabled list before the game so he could make his first start. Maduro, bothered by a strained right forearm since the final week of spring training, lasted just four innings, giving up all four runs on five hits.
Long reliever Rodrigo Lopez kept the Orioles in the game by holding Boston scoreless for four innings.
Note To make room for Maduro on the 25-man roster, the Orioles sent right-hander Rick Bauer back to Class AAA Rochester, where he was due to open the season before Maduro got hurt.
Bauer, 25, made the Opening Day roster in Baltimore's bullpen and looked strong with three shutout innings Friday night. The Orioles, though, want him to pitch every fifth day in the Rochester starting rotation, with a good chance that he'll return to join the Orioles' staff later this season.
"We really feel very strongly that Rick Bauer has the ability to pitch in the big leagues," Hargrove said. "It doesn't do Rick any good to go pitch out of the bullpen right now and throw one or two innings every two or three days."

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide