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August 9, 2000

The Daily Prospectus

A Great Game

by Joe Sheehan

When I was heading to Edison Field for last night's Angels/Red Sox game, I fully expected to end up on my feet cheering for a great performance by a Dominican right-hander.

I just didn't expect to do it twice.

Anaheim's Ramon Ortiz outpitched Boston's Pedro Martinez in what has to be one of the season's best games, 2-1. The teams combined for five hits, none after a leadoff fifth-inning double by Troy O'Leary. There were just two walks in the game, and the whole thing was completed in a snappy two hours and two minutes.

Pedro Martinez was a joy to watch. I hadn't seen him in person in a couple of years, and watching him on television is inadequate. TV, especially the center-field camera, can't properly relate the difference in speed between his changeup and fastball. He made someone look bad at least twice an inning. He also mixed in a nasty curveball that he used to backdoor left-handed hitters and get right-handed hitters swinging. Most impressive to me was that he spent seemingly the entire night ahead in the count.

For a long time now, Greg Maddux has been my favorite pitcher to watch. After last night, I think the torch has been passed.

The real surprise, of course, was the way Ortiz pitched. He was a completely different pitcher compared to the one who pitched for the Angels late last season and early this one. He had much better control, especially of his breaking ball, and like Martinez was around the plate most of the night. He threw just 112 pitches, less than 13 an inning. Other than the two walks, he had just one three-ball count all night.

Ortiz was most impressive when he had to be. In the top of the seventh inning, Garret Anderson dropped an easy fly ball to center field for a two-base error, putting O'Leary on second base as the tying run with one out. (The Angels caught a break--O'Leary probably should have been at third given the height of the fly ball.) Ortiz got Brian Daubach to ground to second base and struck out Ed Sprague on three pitches, the last a curve ball that froze Sprague.

Then in the ninth, Ortiz had to face the three useful players the Sox have to finish the game. With no one warming up in the bullpen, Ortiz got Jason Varitek to pop to Bengie Molina, Nomar Garciaparra on a grounder to first base and a foul popup from Carl Everett to seal the win. It was a tremendous showing by the Angel right-hander, and completed a game that some people like to think can't be found in Baseball 2000.

Other game notes:

  • After the second inning, the scoreboard flashed the batters due up for the Sox in the top of the third: Sprague, Rico Brogna and Mike Lansing.

    There's a contender.

  • The two pitchers combined for a game score of 160 (Martinez: 77, Ortiz: 83). I have no idea if that's the highest this season, but I'm willing to bet it's in the top ten.

  • It's worth repeating: the Angels never got anyone up in the pen the entire game. In fact, there were no visits to the mound by either a pitching coach or a manager. The Sox had Rod Beck and Rheal Cormier up in top of the eighth, which was as close to a pitching change as we got.

Joe Sheehan can be reached at jsheehan@baseballprospectus.com.

Joe Sheehan is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
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