Wednesday, June 28, 2006

 

Pedro Classic

Pedro returns to Fenway this evening to pitch for his new team, the Metropolitans. Everyone who saw Pedro at the height of his powers with the Red Sox has their favorite memories, and mine are two games I attended during his monster season of 1999. I wrote about them on my web site, named at the time Squeezebunt.com. (I gave up that domain name when I was able to get BaseballArizona.com.)

The first game was on a weekend in April 1999 when I happened to catch a Cubs game at Wrigley on Friday before returning home to see the Red Sox host the Indians. Pedro was matched up against Bartolo Colon and was leading in the ninth inning:

After Martinez gave up a run with two outs in the ninth inning to make the score 3-2, Manager Jimy Williams made a visit to the mound but decided to let his ace finish the game. With closer Tom Gordon on the disabled list, it seemed like the right decision. With cheers of "Pedro, Pedro" echoing through Fenway, Dave Justice whiffed on strike three to end the game. High fives all around.

Varitek and Pedro
Varitek congratulates Pedro

My second game was Pedro's last start of the 1999 regular season, his 23rd victory. The victim this time was the Orioles, 5-3:

A Pedro game at Fenway is different because most of the excitement comes in the top of innings when the visiting team is at bat. After every strikeout, the "K" signs go up and the running total is chanted in Spanish, "unos, dos, tres...." (Unfortunately I can't count past three in Spanish and I don't even know if that small sample is spelled right.) After getting a few early runs, the Fenway fans kept themselves amused during the bottom of innings by taunting right fielder Albert Belle. A perfect night at the old ballyard.

Pedro's 1999 postseason featured the epic six perfect innings in a relief appearance against the Indians, and a win head-to-head over Roger in the next round against the Yankees. However, that was only only win against the Yankees in that series. The Red Sox had to wait another five years to kill the Yankees and The Curse, and Pedro was a part of that. A win in Game 3 of the 2004 World Series was his last appearance in a Red Sox uniform.

Postgame: Pedro got shelled by the Red Sox. Good thing we got rid of that guy. Pedro '06 with an 88 mph fastball is a shadow of Pedro '99.


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