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Pedro Martinez vs. Frank Thomas

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I had the misfortune of listening to Steve Rosenbloom on saturday whilst stuck in traffic.

 

BUT, when talking about Pedro Martinez he discussed a column he wrote of the epic at bat of Pedro vs. Frank Thomas.

 

I was at this game. I do not know what year it was, I want to say 2002 or 2003.

 

White Sox vs Red Sox, not late enough in year to have real implications. It was the 5th or 6th inning, bases loaded. Frank Thomas comes up to bat.

 

This epic battle occurs, to me it was 17-18 pitches, Rosenbloom said 11. Foul after Foul. The whole stadium knew this was an awesome moment, people were on edge of their seats.

 

Pedro struck him out looking. I booed, I went home and immediately went to white sox message board and asked if it was a strike (no video online then), it was a wicked, wicked strike.

 

I bring this up because I'm amazed how many sox fans I talk to remember this isolated at-bat in a basically nothing game 12 years ago. One of those "baseball is pretty great" moments.

 

FYI, Joe Crede hit a 3 run home run and we won the game.

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http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2003-06...ek-frank-thomas

 

rosenbloom article from June 2003 linked

 

 

A classic baseball moment

June 18, 2003|BY STEVE ROSENBLOOM.

 

 

One of the greatest pitchers of this generation vs. one of the greatest hitters of this generation. Pedro Martinez vs. Frank Thomas. Power vs. power.

 

A baseball moment.

 

A baseball moment with no options, either. Martinez must pitch to Thomas because the bases are loaded. Thomas must battle Martinez because there are two outs.

 

 

Before this confrontation with Boston up 2-1 at U.S. Cellular Field on Monday night, Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek goes to the mound.

 

"Sometimes you just go over pitches," Varitek said, "so we have a few pitches in mind that we'll throw."

 

Thomas waits, thinking "line-drive double or a line-drive home run," and promptly watches a 95-m.p.h. fastball whistle by his face. A message?

 

"No, no, no," Thomas said. "Pedro's a man when he's on the mound. Everybody knows that. He's a nasty pitcher. Sure he's going to back me off the plate. That's good, hard-nosed baseball."

 

Second pitch, 92. Thomas fouls it off to the right. Looking for a spot?

 

"No, never with him," Thomas said. "I just felt I had to cover the plate."

 

Martinez gets a new ball. Doesn't like it. Gets another one. Rubs it up. Thomas digs his back foot into the box, then reaches the bat to the outside of the plate. He sets his front foot. He waves his bat. Martinez checks Joe Crede at third, then winds, and Thomas fouls another 92-m.p.h. fastball to the right.

 

Martinez has come inside. Martinez has gone outside. Varitek goes to the mound.

 

"I guess they wanted to get me out of my rhythm," Thomas said. "Try to get in my head a little bit."

 

Countered Varitek: "We wanted to call two pitches without giving signs."

 

Better call two better pitches next time, because Thomas rips Martinez's next offering. Just rips it.

 

"He tried to go in," Varitek said, "and it ended up middle."

 

Almost ended up a grand slam, a screaming drive that hooked just outside the left-field foul pole, wrenching the uncharacteristically hopped-up crowd of more than 30,000.

 

"You only get so many chances up there, and that was my chance," Thomas said, "and I barely missed it."

 

Barely missed the next pitch, too, scalding it just outside third.

 

"A slider," Thomas said.

 

"A cutter," Varitek said.

 

Slider, cutter, doesn't matter. It's 1-2 and Martinez is painting.

 

"I battled him in and out," Thomas said. "He kept coming."

 

Thomas steps out. Martinez rubs up a new ball, then scratches the rubber. He takes a look into Varitek. A long look. So long that Varitek goes out to the mound again amid heavy boos.

 

Thomas sets his back foot, reaches the bat outside the plate, sets his front foot. Martinez checks third and deals the sixth pitch of the at-bat.

 

And almost takes off Thomas' chin.

 

The crowd oohs and hoots and screams.

 

"I dove out and ripped a slider foul," Thomas said, "so they wanted to back me off the plate, probably."

 

Said Varitek, speaking for his pitcher who isn't talking to the media these days: "With bases loaded, you're not trying to waste pitches. We were trying to get a swing there, and Frank was able to hold up."

 

 

Next pitch, 94 miles of tracer heat. Outside corner. Thomas slashes. Foul to the right.

 

"I was just going pitch-to-pitch with him," Thomas said.

 

New ball. Martinez rubs it up as he stares at the scoreboard in left. Two balls, two strikes, two outs, two of the best going at it engulfed by a roaring crowd.

 

"There was a lot of energy there," Thomas said. "I'm happy for the fans, the way they reacted, because they were really into that moment."

 

Thomas plants his back foot, touches the outside of the plate--well, you know the routine. And you know the result: Another 94-m.p.h. missile on the outside corner, another foul to the right, another trip to the mound.

 

"I was covering both sides of the plate," Thomas said. "They weren't prepared for that because I'm more of a middle-in type of guy. They were wondering what was going on. Josh (Paul, the runner on second) said he thought they thought he was cheating out there, but he wasn't giving me any signs."

 

Maybe, maybe not. Turns out, Varitek admitted, the reason he went to the mound so often was because the White Sox are "historically known for being able to pick up signs from second. So I wanted to be able to discuss it and have the next two pitches in mind without a signal."

 

Once again, Martinez scratches the rubber. Once again, Thomas plants his back foot. Once again, Martinez checks third. Once again, Thomas waves his bat.

 

And once again, Thomas fouls a weapons-grade fastball to the right.

 

If this were October, ESPN Classic would be rerunning it before the inning had ended.

 

Thomas steps out of the box. Martinez gets a new ball, the seventh since this at-bat started. Thomas stares at Martinez, the back foot dug in, the front foot planted, the mind geeked.

 

"I just really wanted to get a hit," Thomas said.

 

But Thomas is leaning out, and Thomas and Martinez know it. Three straight 94-m.p.h. fastballs on the outside corner. Eight 90-plus fastballs so far. But no curves or changeups. Sorry, can't think about that. Can't think off-speed when a guy's speed is 95.

 

"That's why he's so good," Thomas said.

 

The crowd is thundering. Martinez is dealing. Thomas is ready.

 

But not ready for this. Not ready for Martinez's backdoor curve. Not ready for strike three to be called as he's jumping back out of the way on the 10th pitch of this electrifying at-bat.

 

"He had me leaning back and forth," Thomas said.

 

"He had him off-balance with that, by far," Varitek said. "He had him totally committed on the fastball."

 

"That backdoor breaking ball," Thomas lamented, "he had to buckle me when he did. I thought it was a little down, but it was a nasty pitch."

 

And a great baseball moment.

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Shoot, that's actually an awesome article.

 

And, as an aside, this is the type of detail DJ often gets into when there is a big at bat. That same breakdown of thought process. That's why I still enjoy our radio crew when the game gets to a tense moment.

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Wow, it was only 10 pitches. It felt like so much more.

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Frank Thomas said Pedro and big unit were the toughest pitcher's he's ever faced.

 

This wasn't vs Pedro, but one of my favorite at bats was vs the twins and eddie guardado in extra innings. It was another long at bat and Frank Thomas hit a long shot that just went foul down left field. Very next pitch, Frank hits a walk off homer down left field.

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QUOTE (Whitewashed in '05 @ Jul 27, 2015 -> 03:42 PM)
Frank Thomas said Pedro and big unit were the toughest pitcher's he's ever faced.

 

This wasn't vs Pedro, but one of my favorite at bats was vs the twins and eddie guardado in extra innings. It was another long at bat and Frank Thomas hit a long shot that just went foul down left field. Very next pitch, Frank hits a walk off homer down left field.

 

I remember that, that was awesome.

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Mark Buehrle and Rafeal Palmeiro had an epic 19 pitch at bat where Palmeuro ended up getting a walk. The crowd cheered and gave a standing ovation.

 

In 2003 I remember Frank Thomas fouling off a few pitches only to hit a walk off home run off the Twins. Paul Konerko hit a 2 strike, 2 out homer in the 9th to keep the game alive.

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QUOTE (Whitewashed in '05 @ Jul 27, 2015 -> 03:42 PM)
Frank Thomas said Pedro and big unit were the toughest pitcher's he's ever faced.

 

This wasn't vs Pedro, but one of my favorite at bats was vs the twins and eddie guardado in extra innings. It was another long at bat and Frank Thomas hit a long shot that just went foul down left field. Very next pitch, Frank hits a walk off homer down left field.

 

Haha yep. Same thought!

 

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QUOTE (WilliamTell @ Jul 27, 2015 -> 03:58 PM)
Mark Buehrle and Rafeal Palmeiro had an epic 19 pitch at bat where Palmeuro ended up getting a walk. The crowd cheered and gave a standing ovation.

 

In 2003 I remember Frank Thomas fouling off a few pitches only to hit a walk off home run off the Twins. Paul Konerko hit a 2 strike, 2 out homer in the 9th to keep the game alive.

 

Oh, that was the same game. That was the height of Paulie's brutal stretch. I feel like Alomar/Everett trades happened around then as well.

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QUOTE (bmags @ Jul 27, 2015 -> 04:05 PM)
Oh, that was the same game. That was the height of Paulie's brutal stretch. I feel like Alomar/Everett trades happened around then as well.

It was the first game after those trades. Only know because I was in attendance and I think it was the best game I've every seen in person.

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QUOTE (bmags @ Jul 27, 2015 -> 02:05 PM)
Oh, that was the same game. That was the height of Paulie's brutal stretch. I feel like Alomar/Everett trades happened around then as well.

Oh man, that summer he was so bad. He was as shocked as anyone when he hit that.

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QUOTE (Whitewashed in '05 @ Jul 27, 2015 -> 03:42 PM)
Frank Thomas said Pedro and big unit were the toughest pitcher's he's ever faced.

 

This wasn't vs Pedro, but one of my favorite at bats was vs the twins and eddie guardado in extra innings. It was another long at bat and Frank Thomas hit a long shot that just went foul down left field. Very next pitch, Frank hits a walk off homer down left field.

July 2nd, 2003, Maybe the best game I ever attended. That game featured a HR by Frank in the 3rd and another by Brian Daubach in the 4th and the Frank Thomas walkoff wasn't even the best part.

 

Bottom of the 11th, down a run, Guardado comes on and gets Everett and Carlos Lee to flyout quickly. On comes pinch hitter Paul Konerko for Daubach, who as I mentioned homered earlier, Pauly was in the midst of the worst slump of his career, slashing .185/.260/.265/.525 with 3 HR through 235 PA that season, he had a .271 OPS in the month of June with only 4 hits in 41 ABs. His name is announced and the Paul-eee chant starts up LOUD and on the first f***ing pitch Konerko ties it with a laser to left, the place exploded, everyone lost their damn fool minds, there had to have been 3 curtain calls once he made it to the dugout.

 

Frank's near miss, which was about 3/4 of the way up the foul pole on a line and the eventual walkoff winner were just icing on the cake. Oh and Konerko would go on to hit .276/.344/.504/.848 over his next 259 PA to end the season.

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Man, if our pitching prospects could have just panned out those 01-04 teams had some awesome pieces.

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QUOTE (iamshack @ Jul 27, 2015 -> 04:17 PM)
Oh man, that summer he was so bad. He was as shocked as anyone when he hit that.

 

I wish I had a quarter for every trade proposal for Paul Konerko that summer.

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My brother was at that game. Me and my other brother still talk about that final pitch. We say: "he froze his a**."

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QUOTE (Whitewashed in '05 @ Jul 27, 2015 -> 03:42 PM)
Frank Thomas said Pedro and big unit were the toughest pitcher's he's ever faced.

 

This wasn't vs Pedro, but one of my favorite at bats was vs the twins and eddie guardado in extra innings. It was another long at bat and Frank Thomas hit a long shot that just went foul down left field. Very next pitch, Frank hits a walk off homer down left field.

 

Remember that game vividly, as i was at it. Do you remember that the sox were losing and down to their last out, and paulie in the worst season of his career pinch hits and ties the game with a homer? So epic. I was so happy for paulie. Then frank finished it off. Epic game. I really thought that would propel the sox to the division title.

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QUOTE (South Sider @ Jul 27, 2015 -> 07:55 PM)
Remember that game vividly, as i was at it. Do you remember that the sox were losing and down to their last out, and paulie in the worst season of his career pinch hits and ties the game with a homer? So epic. I was so happy for paulie. Then frank finished it off. Epic game. I really thought that would propel the sox to the division title.

Last two weeks of that season still hurt.

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I remember an epic 1 pitch at-bat in the 2005 World Series...

 

That was a great baseball moment.

Edited by Chet Kincaid

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At Pedro's peak, he was the best pitcher I've ever seen. I think he threw 7 plus pitches. He was just amazing. He also has some of the biggest hands I've ever seen, which gave everything he threw movement.

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QUOTE (bmags @ Jul 27, 2015 -> 08:47 PM)
Last two weeks of that season still hurt.

The '03 team could have hung with anybody in the playoffs. It's a big reason Billy Koch is one of the worst White Sox of all time.

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QUOTE (bmags @ Jul 27, 2015 -> 08:47 PM)
Last two weeks of that season still hurt.

 

Chicago was better than Minnesota in basically in every stat catagory besides the ever important win/loss.

 

Yeah poor Paulie in 2003. Brian Daubach was starting ahead of him for a stretch.

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