What A Pain in the Neck
Martinez is a remarkable 219-100.
Think about that for a second. Martinez has been pitching in the Majors since 1992. He has made 408 starts and 67 relief appearances — and he just lost his 100th game.
“That’s just a number,” Martinez said. “It’s a loss. A loss is a loss. To lose 100 games in the big leagues is a great honor to be honest. It’s a great honor. Many people don’t even get the opportunity to lose even three games or two games or maybe none. I’m a very blessed man to be able to do that. I’ve accomplished a lot of wins, too.
“If you didn’t tell me today, I wouldn’t have realized it. I would just go home, try to get some sleep and take a muscle relaxer and forget about it.”
Now about that muscle relaxer …
… Martinez left the 6-4 loss to the Braves after throwing one warm-up pitch in the bottom of the fourth inning because of stiffness in the right side of his neck. He said he pulled a muscle when he swung at a 0-2 curveball in the second inning.
“Everybody gets that sometimes, even from sleeping on a pillow,” he said. “I hope mine is not any worse than that. I felt it pinch when I threw that pitch to warm up. I don’t want to aggravate my arm or something like that. I don’t want to take chances.”
Of course, the initial reaction when Martinez hurt himself after throwing 119 pitches Sept. 8 against the Nationals and 130 pitches Sunday against the Mets was that it was pitch-count related. Martinez had not thrown 119 or more pitches since Sept. 16, 2005, when he threw 122 against the Braves. He had not thrown 130 or more pitches since May 1, 2001, when he threw 136 against the Mariners. He had not had consecutive starts with that much work since May 24-30, 2001, against the Yankees, when he threw 120 and 121 pitches, respectively. (Martinez spent most of the rest of 2001 on the disabled list with shoulder problems.)
“My arm is really good. It’s fine. It’s perfectly fine,” Martinez said. “I was totally positive. I didn’t feel quite as strong as I would like to, but you could see my fastball – I could click it when I wanted. I got to 90, 91 mph or whatever. I was able to pitch.”
Martinez threw more offspeed pitches tonight. Nearly half his pitches Sunday were fastballs, but just 17 of his 56 pitches tonight were fastballs. Phillies catcher Paul Bako said he thought Martinez was just starting to get into a groove before the neck stiffened up.
“He started to really command the heater with some life and some pop on it,” Bako said. “I believe he was about to throw about three or four more shutout innings because he was really starting to get out there and command and finish his fastball, where early he was trying to get a good feel for things.”
Martinez said he planned to see a chiropractor in the next couple days to crack his neck, but he sounded like he thought he could make his next start Friday against the Brewers.