Both times the past-his-prime right-hander has taken the mound, he has proved beyond the shadow of doubt that, although he's lost something, he's still got more than enough.
"Regardless of what happened, the fact that I was the loser today for the game, I'm extremely proud and happy being to able to participate, compete against a real good team, a very solid team, be able to put my team in position to catch up or win that game," Martinez said after the Phillies' 3-1 loss on Thursday. "At the same time I told myself that I made the right decision by coming back and getting this opportunity, putting myself in the position to get an opportunity to pitch in the World Series."
Game 2: Yankees 3, Phillies 1 | Box Score | Series Home
When Martinez, 38, walked off the mound in Game 2 at Yankee Stadium in the seventh inning, he had allowed just two runs on solo homers by Mark Teixeira and Hideki Matsui. Another run was charged to him after he left, making for the six-inning, three-run game that barely qualifies as a quality start.
Although the box score line isn't nearly as impressive as what he did in the seven scoreless innings against the Dodgers in the National League Championship Series, for most of the night he looked just as befuddling to the power-laden Yankees as he did then, recording nine strikeouts.
"I struck out a lot more batters that you probably expected," a grinning Martinez told a room full of reporters afterward. "I didn't really have to use that 97-mph fastball that I used to. It's a game of adjustments, and I consistently adjust to whatever situation comes up."
That is what has most impressed Martinez's fellow pitchers on the Phillies. Cole Hamels, a young pitcher who still has plenty of stuff in his arsenal, said that Martinez is a case study on how to reinvent yourself as a pitcher in the twilight of your career.
"What he's able to do in his career is impressive," Hamels said. "As he's gone through the transformation, getting older, he's still managed to pitch effectively because he's smart. You can go to the next level when you throw 97 and have an unbelievable changeup and curveball. You have to take into consideration how you'll be able to pitch and have the same effectiveness if you don't have the same stuff. He's been able to do it."
"I've been able to talk to Pedro about certain games, certain pitches, and he's given me some good insights," Hamels said.
Even Cliff Lee, who is pitching so well this October that he doesn't need tips from anyone, said that he has marveled at what Martinez has done with a repertoire of pitches that only occasionally hit 90 mph.
"He knows what he's doing with the ball," Lee said. "I don't think he has the stuff he had in his prime, but he knows what he's doing. He still has the ability to read opposing hitters and tell what they are trying to do."
Last time out against the Dodgers, Martinez needed just 87 pitches to work seven scoreless innings. This time, facing a tougher lineup in a more hitter-friendly park, Martinez got burned by two homers, and Matsui's barely cleared the short right-field fence. Martinez had thrown 99 pitches after six innings when he talked Manuel into sending him out for the seventh. It was significant because in Los Angeles, Martinez seemed quite satisfied to leave after 87 pitches, saying that he might get hurt if he pressed his luck.
Clearly, Martinez's confidence is growing, not declining, so late into the season, and his career. Even though Martinez said he'd been weakened by an illness, he still felt he had plenty left in his arm.
"I'm perfectly healthy," Martinez said. "I threw 100-some-odd pitches (108, actually), and I feel totally fresh. I feel real good. I wasn't really the way I wanted to be, because I've been under the weather. I must repeat this, I was under the weather the last two days and I felt kind of winded out there, but I was still able to do what I had to do."
All of which begs the question of whether this Martinez is going to be back in 2010, or if we are seeing the last glimpse of a Hall of Fame career.
"You're going to have to ask me that question after the World Series," he said. "If we win the World Series, I'd suggest you fly to the Dominican and come ask me. If we don't win, I'll probably give it another shot."