NEW YORK -- Phillies veteran right-hander Pedro Martinez has a chance to shut down the Yankees on Thursday night and place his club in control of the best-of-seven World Series.
With the Phils up 1-0 after defeating the Yanks, 6-1, on Wednesday night, Martinez is slated to start Game 2 at 7:57 p.m. ET on FOX. It will be his first start at the new Yankee Stadium, but his 17th overall, including the old edifice coming down piece-by-piece across the street.
He was 8-4 there, mostly with the Red Sox, but even as a visitor, Martinez made it clear before the game on Wednesday that the media had created folk-hero status for him in New York, long before his four-year tenure with the Mets that came to an end in 2008.
Loves to face.: Hideki Matsui,
4-for-28. Hates to face: Alex Rodriguez, 16-for-55, HR.
Loves to face: Pedro Feliz, 2-for-15. Hates to
face: Carlos Ruiz, 3-for-3, HR.
Why he'll win: Freshest arm in the
Why he'll win: Electric stuff enables him to escape jams.
Pitcher beware: Bad playoff memories in the
Pitcher beware: Allowed 3 HRs to Phillies in May
Bottom line: Can he keep turning back the
Bottom line: Which A.J. shows up?
"I don't know if you realize this, but because of you guys, in some ways, I might be at times the most influential player that ever stepped [on to the field] at Yankee Stadium," said Martinez, who is slated to start against Yankees right-hander A.J. Burnett. "I can honestly say that."
More influential than Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, Joe DiMaggio, Whitey Ford, Reggie Jackson, Roger Clemens or Derek Jeter, just to name a few great Yankees of the past and present? Was he talking about his status as an opposing player?
"I think in every aspect, the way you guys have used me and abused me since I've been coming to [Yankee] Stadium," he responded. "I remember quotes in the paper, 'Here comes the man that New York loves to hate.' The man? None of you have ever eaten steak with me or rice and beans with me to understand what I'm all about as a man. You might say the player, the competitor, but the man? You guys have abused my name. You guys have said so many things and have written so many things [about me]."
After Cliff Lee shut the Yankees down on six hits and an unearned run in a complete-Game 1 effort, Martinez stood his ground and declined to talk any further.
"Good bye and good luck," he said, before prancing out the clubhouse door.
Asked what he expected out of Martinez in Game 2, Phils pitching coach Rich Dubee said: "I expect Pedro to be Pedro."
Ryan Howard said to expect the unexpected.
"I'm just glad he's on our team," Howard said.
Martinez, who is 1-2 with a 4.72 ERA in six postseason appearances against the Yankees and 0-2 with a 5.93 ERA in his past five, might have been just trying to psyche himself up for his biggest start since he left Boston. That was in 2004, when Martinez won Game 3 of the World Series against the Cardinals at old Busch Stadium. He combined with two other pitchers to toss a 4-1, four-hitter. The Sox won their first World Series in 86 years the next day.
As a postseason pitcher, he's 6-2 with a 3.13 ERA in 14 appearances, 12 of them starts. His one World Series decision was that victory over the Cards. In the most recent National League Championship Series, he pitched seven innings of two-hit, shutout ball against the Dodgers in a Game 2 loss.
Martinez was hurt in 2006, when the Mets came within a win of the World Series, losing the NLCS to the Cardinals on the last pitch of the seventh game.
"It's always exciting to actually get back and be able to play in the World Series," he said. "This was something I had in the back of my mind while I was playing for the Mets. But we can't really choose our destiny. Only God knows why I didn't make it with the Mets, but in a short period of time, I got the opportunity with the Phillies."
Martinez, 38, signed with the Phillies as a free agent on July 15, after spending months trying to find a job. He was 5-1 with a 3.63 ERA in nine regular-season starts, earning admiration from Phillies manager Charlie Manuel, a start in the NLCS and this key one in the World Series.
"Actually, I didn't know as much about him, but I thought at times that he was cocky, which is fine," Manuel said. "Sometimes to be good you've got to be cocky, and sometimes [as a manager] you've got to let someone be who they are. Since I've gotten to know him, not only is he competitive, but he really studies the game and loves baseball. He's a baseball guy."
A baseball guy who's cocky enough to think that he may be the most influential player to ever step on the field at the three generations of Yankee Stadium. If he sends the Phillies home with a 2-0 lead, he might just be able to claim that title.
Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.