While fans scurried for their cameras and catcher Mike Piazza scowled, lumbering toward the dugout for a towel, Martinez absolutely embraced the moment, ducking his head into one of the streams as though it were a New York fire hydrant on a summer's day.
"I just got wet," Martinez laughed later. "Water is a blessing, I believe, so I got wet."
Apparently so, because Martinez pitched eight strong innings – striking out nine and allowing just a second-inning homer to former Met Tony Clark – and even added his first base hit since 1997 (a 40-foot dribbler down the third base line), helping the Mets to a series victory over Arizona.
"Since the first day, I've noticed that people here really love to see my face," Martinez said.
|PEDRO FAN: Carlos Beltran has seven home runs this year, and all of them have come in games started by Pedro Martinez.|
The Mets are two games above .500 at 28-26, 1.5 games behind the division-leading Atlanta Braves and Florida Marlins. No team in the NL East is more than 2.5 games out, with the Mets and Washington Nationals boasting identical records and the Philadelphia Phillies at .500.
MAKING MOVES: Before Thursday's game, the Mets placed reliever Dae-Sung Koo on the 15-day disabled list with a bruised left rotator cuff – the after-effect from his daring head-first slide into home plate against the Yankees on May 21, scoring from second base on a Jose Reyes bunt.
Koo, who blasted a double in that game off Randy Johnson to become a daily darling of New York, has done little else in his tenure with the Mets. The 36-year-old Korean rookie has a 5.65 ERA in 22 games (14.1 innings), giving up a home run to Florida's Carlos Delgado on Sunday and allowing three runs in two-thirds of an inning Tuesday against Arizona.
The move allowed the Mets to recall lefty reliever Royce Ring from Triple-A Norfolk. Ring was with the Mets earlier this season and got into three games, and was 1-0 with a 2.33 ERA in 19.1 innings at Norfolk.
TWO GONE, ONE SHELVED: Norfolk first baseman Luis Garcia and lefty reliever Scott Stewart – both once considerations to make the big league club out of spring training – have left the Tides, exercising clauses in their contract that allowed them to leave the organization if they were not promoted to the majors by June 1.
The organization also indefinitely suspended St. Lucie first baseman Brett Harper, who had a Florida State League-leading 17 home runs, for an off-the-field incident.
Minor League Report
TRIPLE-A NORFOLK: Jason Scobie was bombed for six runs (five earned) and ten hits in five innings Thursday as Pawtucket topped Norfolk, 6-2. Jeff Keppinger went 2-for-4, raising his average to .335, and Ron Calloway added a pair of doubles for Norfolk (29-26), which leads Durham by three games in the International League South.
DOUBLE-A BINGHAMTON: The B-Mets rallied for four runs in the eighth inning, but it wasn't enough as Akron rolled past Binghamton 12-9 on Thursday. Ken Chenard turned in a stinker, allowing eight earned runs and two homers in 4-2/3 innings. Mike Jacobs went 4-for-4 with two homers and six runs batted in, while resurgent leadoff man Wayne Lydon went 4-for-6 with three runs scored for Binghamton (26-24), which trails Portland and New Hampshire by two games in the Eastern League Northern Division.
HIGH-A ST. LUCIE: David Wright mini-bobblehead day was rained out at Tradition Field, a side note to a day that saw the St. Lucie club suspend first baseman Brett Harper for an off-the-field incident. Last-place St. Lucie (20-32) trails Vero Beach by 10.5 games in the Florida State League East.
LOW-A HAGERSTOWN: Visiting Lakewood scored three runs in the top of the 11th off losing pitcher Kevin Mannix as the Suns fell on Thursday, 6-3. Ambiorix Concepcion homered for Hagerstown (33-20), who are tied with Lexington atop the South Atlantic League's Northern division.
Tom Glavine (3-5, 5.05) takes the mound Friday as the Mets open a three-game weekend series with the Barry Bonds-less San Francisco Giants. Second-year pitcher Noah Lowry (2-5, 5.37) makes the start for the Giants, who are coming off a sweep at the hands of the Phillies and will try to snap a seven-game losing streak.
Join Steiner Sports and Inside Pitch Magazine on June 11 at Last Licks in Huntington, N.Y. to meet and greet Mets ace Pedro Martinez … Visit www.lastlicks.net or call 631-423-5425 for more info!