Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

The All-Star Game Wall-Bangers Beware NL Hitters Aware of Their Test

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

The All-Star Game Wall-Bangers Beware NL Hitters Aware of Their Test

Article excerpt

BOSTON -- Not many hitters have given Pedro Martinez trouble this season. So he's not about to worry now that he has to face Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and the rest of the NL's best.

"What should I do, start crying?" he said with a laugh yesterday.

No, just keep pitching the way he has been doing all season. He's 15-3, the most wins in the majors, with a 2.10 ERA. He'll be the AL starter in tonight's All-Star game in his home park against Philadelphia's Curt Schilling.

"I pitch the only way I know. I'm not going to switch anything," said Martinez, chosen for his fourth consecutive All-Star game, the last two with Boston.

That can't be good news for the National Leaguers, who had to face Martinez in his two seasons with Los Angeles and four with Montreal before he was traded to Boston before the 1998 season.

NL catcher Mike Piazza was with the Dodgers in Martinez's rookie season in 1992.

"Catching him, I knew he was going to be an outstanding pitcher," Piazza said. "He can make you look bad."

Plenty of American Leaguers would agree. In 132 2/3 innings, Martinez has allowed just five homers, struck out 184 and walked only 24.

"I don't think I have a hit against him yet," said AL second baseman Robbie Alomar of Cleveland.

"He throws so many pitches. His ball moves," said Cleveland's Kenny Lofton, the starting left fielder. "He can throw one ball 70 [mph] and the next one 96. You don't see that every day."

He has a chance to become baseball's first 30-game winner since Denny McLain won 31 in 1968. That's a longshot since starters usually work on four days rest instead of three as they did 31 years ago.

There was little doubt he would start tonight because of his outstanding record and the site of the game at Fenway Park, which "makes it really special," Martinez said.

"That was the only choice," AL manager Joe Torre said. …

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