4: What if Grady Little pulled Pedro Martinez in 2003?
There may have been no better pitcher in baseball history than turn-of-the-century Pedro Martinez. From 1997-2003, Pedro won three Cy Young Awards, led the league in strikeouts three times, and posted a ridiculous 213 ERA+. Yet after a 2001 rotator cuff injury, it became clear that Martinez could not go as deep into games as he once could, and his stats got significantly worse the deeper he went. Red Sox management implored manager Grady Little to take Martinez out at around 100 pitches.
With that in mind, it looked like Martinez’s night was done when he struck out Alfonso Soriano to end the seventh inning of the 2003 ALCS. He was well past 100 pitches, and red-hot relievers Scott Williamson and Mike Timlin, who had allowed a combined one run in the playoffs, were ready to protect a 5-2 lead.
Yet Williams sent Martinez back out for the eight, and, after a pop-up from leadoff batter Nick Johnson, it all fell apart. Derek Jeter doubled to right; Bernie Williams drove him in with a single; Hideki Matsui hit a ground-rule double; and Jorge Posada tied the game with a two-run, bloop single.
Though the game was only tied, the result felt inevitable. Aaron Boone hit a walk-off home run in the 11th to send the Yankees to the World Series and Grady Little packing.