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Pedro unleashes another strike.
The case could be made that Pedro Martinez's 1999 was the best season since the rules were altered in 1968. First of all, baseball was in the midst of an offensive explosion the likes of which the game has never seen. In 1999 American League hitters batted .275, one of the three highest marks since 1968. Teams scored an average of 5.18 runs per game, the fourth highest total since 1968. Baseballs were flying out of the park in the late 90's and Pedro Martinez stood out as the most dominant pitcher from1997-2000.
Martinez won three Cy Young awards in those four seasons. In 1999 he put together some of the more memorable pitching performances of that season.
He was the starting pitcher for the American League All-Star team and with the game being played in Fenway Park, Martinez wasted no time in displaying his dominance to his National League opponents. Martinez started the game by striking out Barry Larkin, Larry Walker, and Sammy Sosa.
In the top of the second inning, Pedro fanned Mark McGwire for his fourth consecutive strikeout. Matt Williams would reach base on an error but Martinez got Jeff Bagwell to strikeout with Williams running and the double play concluded Pedro's dominant appearance. He would be selected as the game's MVP.
Next came the performance on September 10th 1999 in Yankee Stadium. The Yankees were in the midst of their dynasty. Winners of the 1998 World Series and once again headed toward the playoffs with their sites on another ring. That night in the Bronx, Pedro put together what some have referred to as one of the best individual efforts ever. In the second inning, Pedro gave up a solo home run to Chili Davis. It was the only hit the Yankees would get that night as Boston won 3-1. Pedro retired the final 22 batters he faced and finished with 17 strikeouts, including the final five outs of the game.
When the playoffs rolled around the Red Sox were a wild card entry and were matched up in a best-of-five opening series against the Cleveland Indians. Pedro left Game 1 with a strained back and the Red Sox fell into an 0-2 hole. The Sox battled back to force a decisive Game 5 and when both team's starters were hammered creating an 8-8 tie in the third inning, out popped Pedro from the Red Sox bullpen. Martinez's back hampered his velocity but he somehow pitched six no-hit innings against the Indians and led the Red Sox to the series victory.
For the season, Pedro finished 23-4 with an ERA of 2.07. Pedro would finish the season with 313 K's in only 213.1 innings pitched. His 13.2 K's per nine innings pitched ratio is good for second best ever. Pedro's whip of 0.923 also led the American League.
Pedro also led the American League in wins, ERA, strikeouts and WHIP. What was most astonishing was that the second place finisher in ERA that season was David Cone, who finished with a 3.44 mark. That means that Pedro gave up a full run and a quarter less than the next best pitcher in his league. It's also indicative of how good Pedro was while surrounded by some of the most potent offenses in recent memory.