Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Pedro Martinez of Philadelphia Phillies, Andy Pettitte of New York Yankees face off in World Series Game 6

NEW YORK — The first time they met was so long ago, it was hard for those involved to remember.

Technically, it May 31, 1998 — Yankees manager Joe Girardi was catching, Dennis Eckersley was still pitching, the Rays were two months into their first season.

Realistically, it was lifetimes ago.

They'll meet again tonight, for the seventh time overall, but on the grandest stage and with the highest stakes.

Andy Pettitte, the 37-year-old with 229 career wins and a major-league-record 17 in the postseason, the favorite son of the Bronx, trying to close out the World Series championship for the Yankees in Game 6.

Pedro Martinez, the 38-year-old with 219 regular-season wins and six more in the postseason, the reviled villain, trying to keep the Phillies alive by extending the Series to Game 7.

How do you describe what they've done?

How do you put it all into words?

"Two old goats going out there doing the best they can," Martinez said Tuesday. "And having fun with it."

They spoke of how fortunate they've been — both even saying they were blessed — to have the careers they've had and the opportunity, at their advanced ages, they have tonight.

Pettitte, who signed back with the Yankees for the chance to win another championship, was, typically, more earnest.

"For us both to still be pitching, and then to be able to be pitching in the World Series, I know he, I'm sure he feels the same way I do — I just feel very blessed, very fortunate to be able to have this opportunity," he said.

Martinez, who was unsigned in the Dominican Republic until signing with the Phillies in July, was, naturally, more emotional.

"What else would I want? … Two months back I was sitting at home not doing anything … and today I am here, probably pitching one of the biggest games ever in the World Series, two great teams with a whole bunch of legendary players. … I don't have enough words to describe how excited I am about being here. This is just a great gift to me. This is a blessing," he said.

Their history dates but is not extensive: Six regular-season meetings, all between 1998 and 2003, when Pettitte was with the Yankees and Martinez in Boston. Each is 3-3, though Martinez has the better head-to-head ERA — 3.86 to 5.88.

"Me and Derek (Jeter) were talking about it in the clubhouse (Monday) night, just how strange is this, after all the battles with him being in Boston," Pettitte said.

"I know I've faced him a bunch of times … in the course of a regular season and big series and stuff like that, and then to come full circle, this many years have passed, him with the Phillies and me back over here and stuff like that, it's going to be neat."

Martinez considers Pettitte as one of the legendary players. Pettitte described Martinez as "the best pitcher for a lot of years whenever I was over here with the Yankees, the best pitcher that I had ever seen for a stretch."

That they've lasted so long — tonight's pairing is the second-oldest in Series history — isn't by chance. "They were two guys that you knew worked very hard, that had outstanding stuff, that you knew could be around a long time," Girardi said.

"It says a lot about Pedro and about Andy," said Yankees catcher Jorge Posada, who was a backup in their first matchup. "Nowadays you don't see guys at the age of both of them to want to be out there. A lot of hard work. Pedro's gone through surgery, Andy's gone through surgery, it takes a lot to still be out there pitching."

Pettitte, who won Game 3 despite not pitching particularly well, is working on short rest, which will be a big part of the storyline. Martinez, who lost Game 2 despite pitching rather well, is on five days' rest and ready.

Even the other players, Yankees outfielder Nick Swisher said, are excited. "It's going to be fun to watch."

Marc Topkin can be reached at [email protected]

Pedro Martinez of Philadelphia Phillies, Andy Pettitte of New York Yankees face off in World Series Game 6 11/03/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 3, 2009 11:06pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Stroud: Bucs need to stop digging holes on road


    TAMPA — Okay, all you road scholars, why do the Bucs keep falling behind in games not played at Raymond James Stadium?

    HARVARD SQUARED: Tight end Cameron Brate catches a TD from Ryan Fitzpatrick.
  2. Topkin: A busy offseason for Rays approaching as postseason winds down

    The Heater

    Tuesday's opening of the World Series means the end of the postseason is in sight and that the offseason maneuvering, which starts five days after the final out, can soon evolve from talk to action.

    Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Jake Odorizzi smiles at Minnesota Twins' Joe Mauer after Mauer broke up Odorizzi's no-hit bid with a single during the seventh inning of a baseball game Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2017, in St. Petersburg, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
  3. Matt Baker's takeaways from Florida State-Louisville


    1. One of the many hard-to-believe stats about FSU's underperforming defense: DE Brian Burns led all freshmen nationally with 9 ½ sacks last year; his first one this season came midway through the second quarter Saturday.

    TALLAHASSEE, FL - OCTOBER 21: Quarterback Lamar Jackson #8 of the Louisville Cardinals runs the ball into the endzone for a touchdown during their game against the Florida State Seminoles at Doak Campbell Stadium on October 21, 2017 in Tallahassee, Florida. (Photo by Michael Chang/Getty Images) 775042617
  4. Late fumble, field goal send Florida State to another loss


    TALLAHASSEE — Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher didn't have an explanation for the turning point in Saturday's 31-28 last-second loss to Louisville.

    Louisville's Lamar Jackson gets past Florida State's Matthew Thomas to score in the first quarter of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017, in Tallahassee Fla. (AP Photo/Steve Cannon) FLSC102
  5. Bucs-Bills: Tampa Bay's fatal habit of falling behind


    TAMPA — Okay, all you road scholars, why do the Bucs keep falling behind in games not played at Raymond James Stadium?

    Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer (3) recovers a fumble during the first half of an NFL game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz., on Sunday, Oct. 15, 2017.