Pedro Martinez shares the 1 thing Grady Little did wrong with him
Grady Little is a notorious figure in Boston for keeping Pedro Martinez in Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS too long.
The Red Sox were up 5-2 in the eighth inning of Game 7 against the rival New York Yankees. Martinez was giving his Red Sox an ace performance until things fell off in the eighth.
After getting out Nick Johnson to lead off the bottom of the eighth, Martinez allowed a double to Derek Jeter, RBI single to Bernie Williams, ground-rule double to Hideki Matsui, and then a tying 2-run double to Jorge Posada. It wasn’t until he had allowed his fourth straight hit of the inning that Little pulled him for Alan Embree. Embree put two on but escaped with the game tied at five.
The Yankees famously won the game in the 11th on a walk-off home run by Aaron Boone off Tim Wakefield.
Little has been criticized for sticking with Pedro well past the point that Martinez had lost it. Pedro has defended Little in the past, however, he says his former manager messed up one thing.
Martinez was talking on TBS’ postgame show following Game 5 of the NLCS on Wednesday night between the Dodgers and Braves in Los Angeles.
He says the big mistake was being told after the seventh inning that he was done, only to be asked later to do a favor and help pitch in the 8th.
“The problem with that is, when you’re told when you leave the mound, ‘you’re done,’ … and then Grady (Little) came up personally and told me, ‘Pedro, can you get this lefty out? Because (Alan) Embree has a real hard time getting Nick Johnson out as a lefty. And then after that I have the entire bullpen,'” Martinez recalled Little saying.
“So I tried to crank it up a little bit. But it’s difficult because you let down a little bit. I didn’t even have my jacket on (in between innings). And then Grady at the last moment said, ‘can you get Nick Johnson out?’ And of course I’m going to go out there and try to do it. And I got him out in two pitches. And then [Grady] thought I was going to be better than I was after that. And that’s when all wheels fell off,” Martinez said.
Despite the mistake, Martinez still doesn’t blame Little.
“But at the same time, it’s not his fault. I still felt like I could execute some of the pitches. But you just have to also give credit to some of the batters who were able to make the adjustments.”
Little was fired after that season. He only managed two other seasons in MLB — both for the Dodgers — and that was it.
The irony is that after blowing Game 7 in 2003 to the Yankees, the Red Sox returned the favor to the Yankees a year later. In 2004, Boston became the first team to come back from down 3-0 and win a playoff series. They returned the favor on the Yankees, winning in seven games in the ALCS. That year, they also Red Sox won their first World Series since 1918.
Red Sox fans could not have dreamt up a more fulfilling way to break the curse than by coming back from down 3-0 to beat the Yankees in the ALCS. The heartbreak of 2003 only made the 2004 comeback that much sweeter.
Photo: Jul 20, 2019; Cooperstown, NY, USA; Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez arrives at the National Baseball Hall of Fame during the Parade of Legends. Mandatory Credit: Gregory J. Fisher-USA TODAY Sports