2006-04-21 / Sports

Martinez' 200th Win Was A Sweet One For Shea Faithful

By Joe McDonald Sports Columnist

By Joe McDonald
Sports Columnist

New York Mets Pedro Martinez points to the sky against the Atlanta Braves after he was lifted in the seventh inning last Monday. (AP Photo/Ed Betz)New York Mets Pedro Martinez points to the sky against the Atlanta Braves after he was lifted in the seventh inning last Monday. (AP Photo/Ed Betz) FLUSHING, NY - When Pedro Martinez woke up Monday morning, he knew that would be the day. More tranquil than usual, he felt something which would give him his 200th win.

"First of all, God allowed me to open my eyes and see a beautiful day," Martinez reflected after he allowed three runs over 6.2 innings and allowed three runs with eight strikeouts in route to the 4-3 win over the Braves. "I felt so light today, I felt beautiful. Even thought it was a little cool, it wasn't bad tonight. For some reason, I felt popular today."

And maybe electric too.

A buzzing crowd pushed him along during the affair. Behind him 100 percent, Martinez battled through his 108 pitches and left the lead in the capable hands of Duaner Sanchez and Billy Wagner. "I am not surprised with the ovation, but [the fans] felt it was a special day," Martinez, who is now 3-0 on this short season, thought. "I am pretty sure they were as happy as me getting victory 200 tonight."

Needless to say, the new Mets came through for their teammate and helped the Mets up their record to 10-2. But the win was more than just Pedro being Pedro, it showed a different side of him, which the Amazins started to see late last season.

Because of his toe problem, the Mets' ace no longer has the blazing fastball, but he is a crafty veteran who knows how to pitch on the mound. In his start in Washington, Martinez pitched to the ballpark and purposely kept balls up in the zone in order for the Nationals to hit flies to the spacious RFK outfield.

It's that type of skill Willie Randolph relies upon. "Pedro is special," the manager praised. "He is a great all time pitcher and a Hall of Famer. It's a great way to get 200 against a division foe. It's good to see him get that because he's one of our leaders."

A catcher is usually considered a team leader and Paul Lo Duca, who knows a thing or two about receiving good pitchers, only caught Martinez a few times and already has a good relationship with him.

"There were a couple of games we were on the same page and it's me feeling him out too," Lo Duca said. "I will go out there and ask him about certain situations and I am going to whatever he wants. I want him to throw a pitch with conviction, even if it's the wrong pitch and he knows these guys and knows ho to pitch and that's why he's so good." And according to the catcher, the Mets' ace is just getting started. "His Spring Training is now over. He didn't get a lot of innings in Spring Training and now is getting into the swing of things."

But Pedro's success also comes from years of dedication. When he first came up to the big leagues, the Dodgers put him in the bullpen because he was so small. It was only after he was traded to the Expos for Delino DeShields after the 1993 season, that the future Hall of Famer got his chance to start.

"I have taken my work very serious," he said. "When it comes to work, there is nothing more important for me and for my family. I am very happy how I worked and go against all the odds with my physical body."

Though he is getting up there in age, if Martinez keeps going, he may have a chance for 300 wins.

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