Phillies fans are probably wondering what could have been should the team left starting pitcher Pedro Martinez stay in the game. The Phillies lost Game 2 of the NLCS to the L.A. Dodgers 1-2
Grady Little infamously stuck with Pedro Martinez a bit too long.
Six years later, did Charlie Manuel yank Martinez a bit too soon in a crucial playoff moment?
Another manager's late-inning playoff decision on Martinez is sure to be a hot topic of discussion again after the Los Angeles Dodgers' 2-1 comeback victory over the Philadelphia Phillies in Game 2 of the NL championship series on Friday.
In his first postseason start since 2004, Martinez stifled the Dodgers for seven scoreless innings, allowing two hits and overwhelming Los Angeles' lineup with control and guile.
Martinez threw just 87 pitches in those seven innings and didn't walk a batter, but Manuel elected to pinch hit for him with Carlos Ruiz on first base and one out in a 1-0 game.
The move backfired spectacularly, and the defending champions wasted a golden opportunity to take a two-game lead in the series.
Pedro looked like the Martinez of 2003, who ran out of gas before he could pitch the Boston Red Sox into the World Series in Game 7 of the AL championship series.
In a move that broke Red Sox fans' hearts and contributed to Little's firing soon after, the manager kept a tiring Martinez on the mound with Boston holding a two-run lead and sitting just five outs away from the World Series. The Yankees rallied to tie it against Martinez, and Aaron Boone's 11th-inning homer off Tim Wakefield sent them into the Series instead.
Manuel's decision wasn't made with the stakes quite as high -- and after the Philadelphia bullpen's solid effort in Thursday's Game 1, Manuel undoubtedly believed he could count on his relievers again.
Ben Francisco pinch hit for Martinez and grounded into an inning-ending double play. And with Martinez off the mound, the Dodgers jumped on four Philadelphia relievers for a two-run rally capped by Andre Ethier's bases-loaded walk from J.A. Happ, and evened the NLCS at one game apiece.
Martinez gave up just two singles, hit one batter and didn't allow a runner to reach third base. Though he hadn't started a game since Sept. 30 and hadn't pitched in the playoffs in five years, Martinez seemed capable of carrying the Phillies even farther.
But Chan Ho Park's second appearance against his former team didn't go nearly as well as his first. Park pitched a scoreless seventh inning in Game 1, retiring Manny Ramirez, Matt Kemp and Casey Blake in order after Ethier's leadoff double.
Park gave up hard-luck singles to Blake and Ronnie Belliard, whose rolling grounder he couldn't corral on his injured hamstring.
After Los Angeles scored the tying run on second baseman Chase Utley's throwing error on a double-play relay, Jim Thome singled to chase Park.