Martinez extended his career-best scoreless streak to 31
innings, blanking Minnesota through the eighth and pitching the
Boston Red Sox to a 2-0 win Saturday. On a day when he didn't feel quite up to par, Martinez mixed his
pitches well and kept the Twins' hitters off-stride.
"When I was warming up, I noticed I wasn't as sharp and as
strong as I had been,'' Martinez said. "I managed to keep them off
balance and sink the ball well today to get some groundballs.'' Martinez (16-2), off to the best start of his career, gave up
only four hits in winning his ninth straight decision. He has the
longest shutout string in the majors since Atlanta's Greg Maddux
went 39 1/3 innings in September 2000. "He went out there today and he knew he didn't have his best
fastball, and he probably did his best job of pitching that he has
done all year.'' Red Sox manager Grady Little said. The three-time Cy Young Award winner didn't walk a batter and
struck out eight in lowering his ERA to 2.14, second best in the
majors behind teammate Derek Lowe's 2.09. In his last eight starts, Martinez is 7-0 with a 0.47 ERA. He
threw 77 of his 101 pitches for strikes. His streak is the longest
by a Red Sox pitcher since Luis Tiant had 42 in 1972. "This is one day when I had to work to earn it,'' said
Martinez, who was hampered last season by shoulder tendinitis. "It
gives me some satisfaction inside being able to do my job even when
I wasn't as strong as other days.'' Catcher Jason Varitek felt Martinez is just continuing to
rebound from last season's shoulder problems, and has continued to
progress as a pitcher. "He's learning how to pitch when he's not 150 percent,''
Varitek said. "It was just one of those days when he had to spot all of his
pitches,'' Red Sox third baseman Shea Hillenbrand said. Ugueth Urbina struck out the side in the ninth for his 27th save
in 31 chances. It was just Boston's second win in five games of a current
six-game homestand that concludes against the Twins on Sunday.
Minnesota, runaway leaders in the AL Central, has lost five of its
last six. The Twins didn't manage to get a runner past second base,
collecting a first-inning double by Cristian Guzman and three
singles. "The last time we saw him, he was a fastball pitcher,''
Minnesota center fielder Torii Hunter said. "Today, it was
finesse. He was hitting his spots. He didn't make any mistakes.'' In the first four innings, Martinez mainly relied on his
changeup to start nine of the first 12 batters with called strikes.
Overall, he got first-pitch strikes against 22 of his 28 hitters. "He used all of his pitches,'' Twins manager Ron Gardenhire
said. ''(It was) just what we saw on TV all the times watching him
do to other people. He did that to us.'' The Red Sox took a 2-0 lead in the second against Joe Mays
(1-4). Cliff Floyd and Hillenbrand doubled for the first run and Rey
Sanchez hit an RBI single with two outs. That would be more than enough for Martinez, who overwhelmed a
young Twins lineup that averaged just over three years in the
The Twins' best chance came in the first when Guzman had a
one-out double, but Corey Koskie flied out and David Ortiz grounded
Lowe had the majors' prior longest scoreless streak this
season, going 29 innings from July 23-Aug. 8.... Minnesota entered
the game with a .292 average against RHPs, highest in the majors.
... Martinez's last loss was June 14 at Atlanta. ... Sanchez left
the game in the top of the seventh with flulike symptoms. ... Butch
and Derek Trucks of the Allman Brothers Band threw out the
ceremonial first pitch. ... Floyd left the game in eighth with a
right hip flexor. ... Martinez is 15-0 against the AL this year,
and has been part of eight of Boston's major league-leading 16