Kris Benson, RH Pedro Martinez, RH (7-5, 4.63) (6-2, 2.94) 2B B Roberts SS J Reyes LF B Fahey C P Lo Duca 3B M Mora CF C Beltran SS M Tejada 1B C Delgado C R Hernandez 3B D Wright CF C Patterson 2B J Valentin 1B K Millar RF E Chavez RF N Markakis LF L Milledge P K Benson P P Martinez
Kris Benson faces his former team and it's a big deal to pretty much nobody since A--a isn't around anymore to make people give a half a crap about a mediocre pitcher. If she was still talking up a storm in baseball circles, you can bet their return to Shea would be tabloid kung fu. Instead, it's just his return, and he is only Kris Benson.
Pedro Martinez fascinates me, a lot of it because of the way Bill James described Pedro in the Abstract: "How can he be so much better than the other pitchers? His fastball is good, but there are 20 or 50 people in the league who throw just as hard. His curve isn't better than anyone else's, his control isn't. But he is vastly better in toto because he has some additional factors -- his ability to change his arm angle, his ability to change speeds on all pitches without losing control -- which interact to make geometric combinations."
And that was even before Pedro's fastball lost some zip. And yet here he is, at 34, with a 2.94 ERA and 0.90 WHIP, a 5-to-1 K-to-BB ratio, and striking out 10.25 batters per nine innings, and holding opposing hitters to a .186 average. He's not quite the ridiculously dominant force of nature he was from 1997 through 2003, but he is still one of the best pitchers in baseball, and he was great last year too while getting no attention because so many NL starters had superb years and because the Mets stunk.
Pedro is an all-time great. If his career ended tomorrow, he should go into the Hall of Fame. 203-86 record, 2958 strikeouts, 2.73 ERA in an era of huge run scoring. He's absurdly good. But even more than that, he's a genuine character and a lot of fun. Even just yesterday, Pedro sat in the Mets dugout with a big pair of green sunglasses on. He and Millar interacted a little, which would be annoying in some ways if it wasn't Pedro and Kevbo. I'd kind of like them to do a performance art dance number about hating the Yankees during the seventh inning stretch.
Interestingly, Pedro's career line against the Orioles isn't so hot. He's 90-4 with a 4.01 ERA in 17 games (16 starts). His WHIP is a tidy 1.03 and it's not that 4.01 is bad really, plus he has good peripherals, but the only teams Pedro has a higher career ERA against are the Brewers (5.14, 3 G), the Astros (4.18, 17 G) and Dodgers (4.02, 9). I mean you look at some of his other numbers and it's just outlandish -- the Mariners, for instance, against whom Pedro has a 13-1 career record and 1.57 ERA with 137 strikeouts in 103 innings, or the Indians (11-1, 1.77, 146 K in 117 IP).
No game that has Pedro Martinez pitching should be passed up. He'll only be around for so long, and really, we're watching an historical marvel of a pitcher when he takes the mound.
But enough of my Pedro love, I suppose, how about us Orioles? Melly Mel DONGED off the team that traded him to us for Mike Bordick six years ago to cap a big seventh inning rally. It was a really fun game, inspiring on many levels. Not that beating a 26-year old rookie pitcher is the biggest deal in the world, but sometimes it feels like we take a week to score four runs, let alone four in an inning to come back and win a game. And Benson? Well, I don't want it to seem like I've got anything against him. He's been Kris Benson by the books, and he doesn't care about this Return to Flushing, either, or at least he says he doesn't, which is good enough for me.
And you know what else? Every time I start to get even a little bit sick of seeing Brandon Fahey, particularly in left field, he hits a triple or something and has that little kid grin on his face, and I'm like, "Aw hell, you can stay." He's really not any good at all right now, at least as a hitter, and might not belong in the major leagues technically, but I'll take a guy that busts his ass and seems like he gives a shit over Luis Matos any day of the week.