The story lines were obvious. Except for the one taking place inside the Red Sox clubhouse.
A 1-hour-20-minute rain delay, which stalled Pedro Martinez's start, was an obvious concern. There was Martinez's clutch pitching in the fifth and sixth innings, when he escaped trouble to preserve the lead gained when David Ortiz hit a grand slam in the fifth. All of which led to the Sox beating the Seattle Mariners, 8-4, last night at Fenway Park.
And then there was the cardboard box sitting on a table in the locker room. It had a slot in the middle. Written on it in black letters was, "Please, any help you can donate to the people of my country -- D.R. They got hit by the flood. Thank you, David Ortiz."
It was after his second at-bat, in the fourth inning, when Ortiz, the designated hitter, walked back into the clubhouse after grounding out to third. He encountered Ellis Burks with his 9-year-old son, Christopher. Alan Embree had paid off an old bet to Burks with a pair of $50 bills. Burks handed the money to his son, who immediately dropped a fifty in the box.
"When I saw this I was ready to cry," Ortiz said. "It made me feel great. To see a young kid do that. I got excited. My mind was different after that. That changed me."
It changed him in the Red Sox' favor. Ortiz, as well as Martinez and Manny Ramirez, have been affected by the floods that have ravaged the Dominican, and their hope was that those watching the games back home could find some temporary relief from the hardship.
The Sox were down, 4-2, at the time of Ortiz's slam. His only previous grand slam in the major leagues occurred Sept. 7, 2000, off Pedro's brother, Ramon, who was pitching for the Sox when Ortiz was with the Twins. Ortiz sent the first pitch from Seattle starter Joel Pineiro in the at-bat high and long toward the right-field fence. The only question was would it go over or would Ichiro Suzuki rob him? The answer soon came, and Martinez was handed a 6-4 lead.
"It was pretty high," said Martinez. "But I was glad to see Ichiro actually not coming out with it. He tried and he was close."
"I thought I hit it pretty good," said Ortiz of his 11th homer of the season. "That was one for Petey and one for Ramon."
The Sox scored five runs in the inning as back-to-back doubles by Kevin Millar and Kevin Youkilis cut the gap to 4-2. With two outs, Pineiro made the mistake of walking Johnny Damon and Mark Bellhorn, setting the stage for Ortiz.
Martinez, now an amazing 13-0 with a 1.30 ERA against the Mariners in his career, was determined not to squander the lead. On his 99th pitch, he got Randy Winn, who had stroked two doubles, to ground out to end the sixth. Martinez retired the Mariners in order in the seventh as he turned what started as a shaky outing into a respectable one, leaving with nine strikeouts and no walks.
"You know what, I felt great today," Martinez said. "The little delay kind of threw me off a little bit. But I felt great after being disappointed with the way I'm pitching. I have to tip my hat to my teammates for not letting me lose any more games. For the first time, I felt confidence in my changeup, like I could throw it on any count. Breaking balls, I hung a couple of cutters."
Martinez gave up solo homers to Bret Boone in the second inning and Rich Aurilia in the fifth. Martinez has now allowed nine home runs, two more than he did all of last season.
After Boone gave the Mariners a 1-0 lead, Ramirez made sure Martinez wasn't in a hole for long. The first batter of the bottom of the second, Ramirez hit his 13th homer on a 3-and-2 fastball by Pineiro, giving Ramirez five homers in the last eight games.
After Aurilia's blast, Winn doubled and scored on Suzuki's single to center. But the Mariners let Martinez off the hook. They had runners at second and third after a successful double steal by Suzuki and Scott Spiezio, but Martinez struck out Edgar Martinez (who was 3 for 21 against him), and got Raul Ibanez to foul out to Youkilis at third base.
Ortiz then made the Mariners pay.