keyboard_arrow_uptop

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.