Of course all that changed before Clemens got his first six outs. After two innings Clemens was roughed up for five runs on six hits and a pair of walks, while Pedro cruised through seven innings of two-hit ball in a 13-1 victory for the Red Sox.
Pedro’s win over Clemens was the high-water mark for the Red Sox until 2004 when they finally broke through against the Yankees and won their first World Series since 1918. More impressive, that game against Clemens and the Yankees came shortly after he came on in relief in the deciding game of the ALDS and no-hit the Indians for six innings.
Wouldn’t it be cool to see him do the same kind of thing this October?
Some say those two games were the best back-to-back outings of a Hall of Fame career and it’s hard to argue with the numbers – 13 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 20 K.
However, that game against Clemens might have been the first time Pedro was matched up with another big-time pitcher. The pair squared off again in the 2003 ALCS where he famously pitched Don Zimmer to the ground during a bench-clearing incident before the old man could rain blows onto the pitcher.
Not saying that Zim had it coming, but, you know, if you want to dance you gotta pay the man… or something like that.
Anyway, Pedro is no stranger to taking the mound in big games and/or against big-time pitchers. He met Clemens three times in the ALCS, beat John Smoltz with a two-hitter in 2005, went head-to-head with one-time Cy Young Award winner Brandon Webb in a 0-0 duel in 2006, as well as games against Randy Johnson (and others) scattered along the way.
Tonight at the Bank is a renewal of those big-time matchups. Call it Cy Old vs. Cy Young when Pedro takes on reigning NL Cy Young Award winner, Tim Lincecum.
This one is pretty intriguing simply because the stage of the careers the pitchers are traversing. This very well could be Pedro’s swan song since he made no secret about his desire to return to a team that had a chance to make a run for a ring. If he gets it this year, he just might call it quits… then again, maybe not.
Nevertheless, at 37 Pedro is putting the finishing touches on a Hall of Fame career, while Lincecum just might be at the beginning stages of his. The interesting thing is the pair of right-handers are almost carbon copies of each other with a decade-plus difference in age. Pedro is listed at 5-foot-11 and roughly 180 pounds, while Lincecum is also a slight 5-foot-11 and a wispy 170ish. Back when he was the baddest man with a baseball in his right hand, Pedro threw in the high 90s, broke off a nasty curve, and threw a ridiculous, knee-buckling changeup. And oh yeah, he wasn’t afraid to buzz a hitter or three with a fastball.
These days Pedro throws in the low 90s, still has the changeup, but actually has to pitch more with guile and smarts.
Meanwhile, Lincecum, just like the Pedro of old, throws his fastball in the mid-to upper 90s, mixes in a curve and slider and throws an unconventional changeup that dives like a splitter. As a result, Lincecum was the Cy Young Award winner in 2008 during his first full season in the big leagues at just age 24.
Worse for opponents, Lincecum has the same cold-blooded approach that Pedro had.
“I can't foresee a guy like Timmy going out in a playoff game and being nervous,” Giants’ centerfielder Aaron Rowand said. “That's not his persona.”
So look at the matchup as a glimpse into the past and the future.
Should be fun.