Phils' season in Pedro's practiced hands

Season in Pedro's practiced hands

PHILADELPHIA -- It has come down to this. Pedro Martinez of the Phillies against Andy Pettitte of the Yankees in Game 6 of the World Series on Wednesday night at Yankee Stadium.

"Two old goats out there doing the best they can and having fun with it," Martinez said at a news conference on Tuesday's off-day.

With the Phils trailing the best-of-seven series 3-2 after defeating the Yanks, 8-6, on Monday night at Citizens Bank Park, Martinez is back where he wants to be: in a must-win situation for his club Wednesday night at 7:57 ET on FOX.

Win and the Phils will live to fight another day in Game 7 on Thursday night. Lose and the Yankees will have their 27th World Series title. It will be his second start at the new Yankee Stadium, but his 18th overall in the Bronx, including the old edifice across the street.

"For us both to still be pitching and then to be able to be pitching in the World Series, I'm sure he feels the same way I do," said Pettitte, whose Yankee tenure was interrupted by a tour with the Astros. "I just feel very blessed, very fortunate to be able to have this opportunity."

Tale of the Tape: Game 6
2009 Regular Season
Overall: 9 GS, 5-1, 3.63 ERA, 37 K, 8 BB.
Overall: 32 GS, 14-8, 4.16 ERA, 148 K, 76 BB.
Key stat: Allowed 7 HRs in 44 2/3 IP.
Key stat: 4-6 with a 4.15 ERA in 14 GS on short rest.
Postseason
2009: 2 GS, 0-1, 2.08 ERA.
Career: 15 G, 13 GS, 6-3, 3.22 ERA.
2009: 4 GS, 3-0, 3.24 ERA. Career: 39 GS, 17-9, 3.88 ERA.
At YANKEE STADIUM
2009: 1 GS, 0-1, 4.50 ERA. Career: 20 G, 18 GS, 8-6, 3.38 ERA.
2009: 16 GS, 6-4, 4.59 ERA. Career: 205 G, 202 GS, 109-50, 3.78 ERA.
Against this opponent
2009: No starts. Career: 39 G, 38 GS, 12-14, 3.43 ERA.
2009: 1 GS, 0-0, 5.14 ERA. Career: 8 GS, 3-2, 3.97 ERA.
Loves to face.: Robinson Cano, 0-for-15.
Hates to face: Alex Rodriguez, 16-for-58, HR.
Loves to face: Ryan Howard, 1-for-12. Hates to face: Carlos Ruiz, 2-for-4.
Game breakdown
Why he'll win: Big-game pitcher.
Why he'll win: Bigger game pitcher.
Pitcher beware: Struggles with Yankees in playoffs.
Pitcher beware: Struggles at home this season.
Bottom line: Can he keep Yanks in the yard?
Bottom line: Another clincher?

Ditto Martinez.

"I look at this situation as a blessing," he said. "I mean, what else would I want? I'm doing the job I love. I'm doing something that not everybody gets to do. If you consider the fact that a few months back I was sitting at home not doing anything -- none of you were thinking of me whatsoever, none of you were asking me questions -- and today I am here, getting ready to pitch in probably one of the biggest games ever in World Series history."

Those are the twists and turns of life. Earlier in the season, Martinez, the former member of the Red Sox, Mets, Expos and Dodgers, was a right-hander without a team. Then on July 15, the Phillies took a chance and signed him as a free agent. There were stops and starts and nagging injuries. He pitched once after Sept. 19 as the regular season wound down, lasting four innings against Houston on Sept. 30. He finished 5-1 with a 3.63 ERA in nine regular-season starts.

But this is the first time since Sept. 19 that Martinez is pitching on a regular turn with four days of rest.

"I think what you're going to see is something close to what you saw the last time out, because the last couple of times he's pitched he's been very consistent," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said on Tuesday. "He's had tremendous command. He has tremendous feel. He knows how to pitch. He knows more about hitters than probably people give him credit for, because he'll sit there and study the game and he'll study the hitters.

"But also he still has talent. When he executes his pitches as a pitcher should, he's definitely capable of throwing a very good ballgame. I'd look for him to definitely put us in a place where we can win the game."

Martinez is 8-5 against the Yanks in their home ballparks after losing, 3-1, in Game 2 on Thursday night. In that one, he wasn't exactly the Pedro of old, but after arm injuries, surgery and almost a year off, he mixed up his pitches, striking out eight and walking two while yielding three runs on just six hits.

He made two bad pitches out of 107. Both turned into solo homers, with Mark Teixeira leading off the fourth inning with one and Hideki Matsui hitting one with two out in the sixth.

Martinez is 1-3 in seven postseason appearances against the Yankees and 0-3 in his past six. Wednesday night will be his third World Series start, including the one in 2004 when Martinez, then with the Red Sox, won Game 3, 4-1, against the Cardinals at old Busch Stadium. He combined with two other pitchers to toss a four-hitter. The Sox won their first World Series in 86 years the next night.

Unlike then, he doesn't have the pop on his pitches. But just like then, he knows how to mix them up.

"His changeup that used to be like 87, 88 mph is 75 now, but it's still just as effective," Pettitte said. "A good pitch is a good pitch. If you change speeds and location, you'll continue to get guys out."

As a postseason pitcher, Martinez is 6-3 with a 3.22 ERA in 15 appearances, 13 of them starts. In the most recent National League Championship Series, he pitched seven innings of two-hit, shutout ball against the Dodgers in the Phillies' Game 2 loss. He didn't figure in the decision. But this is the recent consistency that Manuel was talking about.

"Right now, he's starting to get stretched out," Manuel said. "The more he throws, the better he's getting. Yeah, he's capable of throwing a real good game."

Just like his days with the Red Sox, Martinez was cascaded with jeers at Yankee Stadium in Game 2. With the Yankee-oriented crowd of 50,181 taunting Martinez, chanting, "Who's your daddy? Who's you're daddy?" he opened by whiffing three of the first four Yankees hitters.

The fans' refrain was a reference to a Martinez quote from 2004. Frustrated after a loss to the Yankees in New York, Martinez said: "I just tip my hat and call the Yankees my daddy." Martinez smiled through it all in Game 2, and he ultimately whiffed Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez twice each that night.

Martinez declined to address the "my daddy" days on Tuesday, as he regaled the media with his usual home spun wisdom. Right now, he's content to look ahead, at least until Wednesday. It's just a matter of surviving, he said.

"For everybody that grows up in the Dominican and didn't have a rich life, it's a survival," Martinez said. "That's what we call it in the Dominican -- survival. And in baseball, I am a survivor. I'm someone who wasn't meant to be, and here I am on one big stage. I really thank God for the blessings of being here, because I was supposed to just survive and that's it. Here we are, guys! I have a lot of you paying attention to me right now. That's a great joy."

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.