So when Pedro Martinez saw Phillies manager Charlie Manuel leave the dugout with two outs in the eighth inning, he begrudgingly assumed that his night was over. But Martinez talked his way into one more batter. The 44,901 fans at Citizens Bank Park roared with approval as Manuel trotted back to the dugout. And they shouted even louder when Daniel Murphy, who was on second, was thrown out trying to advance on a pitch in the dirt, ending the inning.
Martinez's masterpiece brought memories of the 1990s and sent the Phillies to a 1-0 victory over the Mets on Sunday night. Philadelphia swept the doubleheader and increased its National League East division lead to 6 1/2 games over Florida.
"He pitched with a lot of emotion. He wanted to stay there. He's a pro, man," Manuel said. I asked him, 'You got anything left?' and he said, 'I want him. I got him.' And just looking in his eyes told me that he wanted him.
Martinez allowed just six hits and struck out seven over his eight shutout innings. During one stretch, he retired 10 straight. He also finished with 130 pitches, his highest total since throwing 136 on May 1, 2001.
Over his past three starts, Martinez is 3-0 with a 1.66 ERA, 20 strikeouts and two walks. For the season, he is 5-0 with a 2.87 ERA -- a pretty good return on a prorated $2 million.
"Actually, when I went to the mound, I was leaving him in anyway," Manuel said. "But I had to go see what he was going to say."
That decision was primarily driven by Martinez's stellar performance. But there was at least one other lingering factor. The Phils' late-inning relievers have been taxed -- and shaky -- lately. Brad Lidge closed Game 1 and was unavailable, as was Brett Myers, who has pitched frequently since coming back from hip surgery.
Manuel hoped to stay away from Ryan Madson, too, but a one-run game left him little choice; Madson pitched the ninth for his eighth save.
Martinez knew his teammates were fatigued and he wanted to help. Never mind that he is 37 years old and has battled back from numerous injuries over the past four years. Never mind that he threw 119 pitches in his start on Tuesday.
"I'm enjoying every single pitch I get in baseball from now on," Martinez said. "If it's 130, 150, 200. If I only throw 72, 89, then that's all I got. I'm going to honor the game the way it should be. I'm going to go away doing as much as I can, and enjoying the time.
"I feel like probably [back in] '98, '99, 2000 maybe. Because I'm bouncing back good."
Something else transported his mind back to his heyday. As the game wore on and the Phillies clung to their one-run lead, Martinez heard the fans serenading him.
"I'm very glad that they have embraced me the way they have," he said. "I actually got a little bit caught up into it because it brought me a lot of memories of Boston. Especially when they just chanted, 'Pe-dro, Pe-dro' in the middle of a pitch. Reminded me a lot of Boston."
In some ways, then, Sunday tied together his Hall of Fame career nicely. He pitched for the Mets from 2005-08, of course, beset by injuries during the final 2 1/2 years in New York. And on Sunday, he delivered the final blow of their disastrous season, mathematically eliminating them from contention.
"That's probably coincidence and destiny, because I had no idea," Martinez said. "I'm sorry for them, because they have a whole bunch of good guys."
Shortstop Jimmy Rollins scored the game's only run. He led off the game with a walk and advanced to second on Shane Victorino's single. Chase Utley then scorched a liner off the top of the left-center-field wall.
Rollins scored easily, but Victorino inexplicable stopped at second, leaving Utley with perhaps the longest single of his career. There were still no outs, but with runners on first and second instead of second and third, the Phillies were unable to push across another run.
Indeed, they finished with just three hits -- none after Pedro Feliz led off the second inning with a double.
With Martinez at his best, the Phillies had all the offense he needed.
"I'm always a happy camper if I'm healthy," Martinez said, smiling. "But today, more reason to be a happier camper."
David Gurian-Peck is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.