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In 1999, Pedro Martinez of the Boston Red Sox authored one of the greatest pitching seasons in modern baseball history as he went 23-4 with a 2.07 ERA, striking out a phenomenal 313 hitters in only 213.1 innings. He would win his second of three Cy Young awards and lead his team to a second place in the American League East and they would be the AL Wild Card entrant into the post-season. Even more impressive in hindsight might be that his absolutely dominant 1999 and 2000 seasons occurred dead in the heart of baseball's infamous "steroid era", a time dominated by hulking sluggers and grossly inflated home run totals.
During that thrilling post-season that followed, Pedro picked up precisely where he left off in the regular season. Unfortunately, as his team locked in a heated battle with the mighty Cleveland Indians, a team that had accomplished the unbelievable feat of scoring 1,009 runs that year, Pedro encountered back stiffness that made his status questionable throughout the series. In fact, he left his Game 1 start of that series after pitching four inning of shut-out ball, a game his team would eventually lose 3-2 without him.
Pedro would not make another start that series due to his back, however, he would still play a massively instrumental role in the match-up despite his physical limitations.
After Cleveland jumped out to a 2-0 series lead at home, Boston enjoyed their home-field advantage in Games 3 and 4, winning those games at Fenway to even the series. The Game 4 win was thorough trouncing of the Indians in which the Red Sox embarrassed Cleveland 23-7.
The potent Cleveland Indians were seeking vengeance, and they found it, battering Boston starter Bret Saberhagen for five runs in only an inning-plus of work. Boston would counter with five runs in the top of the third, but the Indians answered with three more in the bottom of the inning of Derek Lowe. After scoring a run to tie the game in the top of the fourth, Boston now sensed their opportunity and turned to Pedro Martinez in relief to start the bottom of the fourth inning. His back had healed enough to make a contribution to his team's effort to overcome the powerful Indians.
And contribute he did.
Pedro entered the game in the fourth, blazing fastballs, changing speeds and dropping his breaking pitches off the table, completely baffling the Cleveland lineup, something that rarely occurred en route to their 1,000+ run scoring season. A modern day Murderers' Row, Cleveland's lineup boasted three future hall-of-famers, and was loaded with powerful hitters throughout.
That day though, they had no hope against Pedro Martinez, as he pitched the remainder of the game, throwing six inning of no-hit ball, shutting them out, walking three, while striking out eight. Pedro only allowed one ball out of the infield, a harmless fly ball to center-field.
The diminutive hurler from the Dominican put forth a valiant effort to suppress a dominant Cleveland lineup that night, overcoming his own health concerns to help his team and to clinch the American League Division Series for the Red Sox, en route to their ALCS meeting with the Yankees. No matter which team you're a fan of, it's nearly impossible to not respect what Pedro accomplished that night, carving his name into baseball lore.