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The Unfinished Season; Part One: Pedro Martinez begins to dominate with the ’94 Expos

“The Unfinished Season” is an article series where we take you back in time and look the 1994 Montreal Expos. Part One looks at one of the young stars of the Expos, right-handed hurler, Pedro Martinez.

The 1994 Montreal Expos were a dynamic team that was filled with talented young players. This Expos team was the youngest team in the majors filled with homegrown talent. Unfortunately, the 1994 MLB Strike derailed a once promising season. It would cause a future fire sale and beginning the eventual end to baseball in Montreal.

Heading into the 1994 season, the Expos had seen success in the previous two seasons. Under manager Felipe Alou, the Expos finished with an 87–75 in 1992 and then won 30 of their final 39 games in 1994 to finish the season 94-68.

The Emergence of Pedro Martinez

Alou was beginning to develop his young players on his roster like Marquis Grissom, future Hall of Famer Larry Walker and his son Moises Alou. In addition to that talented trio in the outfield, Montreal had a young catcher in Darrin Fletcher, infielders Wil Cordero and Cliff Floyd, all of whom were homegrown.

The front office also pulled off a trade for future Hall of Fame pitcher Pedro Martinez. On November 19, 1993, the Expos would trade infielder Delino DeShields to the Dodgers to land Martinez. While in Montreal, Martinez began to develop himself as one of the leagues’ most dominant pitchers.

During the strike-shortened season, Martinez would finish 11-5 with a 3.42 ERA with 142 strikeouts in 144 2/3 innings.

The April 13, 1994 melee between the Expos and Reds

Expos starter Pedro Martinez following the donnybrook on the field / Image courtesy of YouTube

Following an Opening Day loss to the Padres, the Expos took the next two games and would play a series against the Reds.

The Expos started Martinez against the Reds and the young right-hander did not disappoint. Martinez threw eight no-hit innings before some excitement would ensue on the diamond.

The future Hall of Famer had a perfect game going in the eighth but Martinez would drill Reds slugger Reggie Sanders in the elbow. 

This prompted Sanders to charge the mound against Martinez and a melee would ensue. The benches cleared and both teams would exchange pleasantries on the field which would need to be broken up.

“You’re kind of on the bottom of the pile being a third baseman. You got to be there to protect your pitcher,” says Sean Berry.

“Pedro would never leave the mound. He would stay right there, so a lot of times he wouldn’t even get kicked out of the game.”

Following the scuffle on the diamond, Martinez regained his composure to fan Roberto Kelly on a pitch in the dirt. He would then get the Reds Willie Greene to fly to center to end the inning.

No-hitter broken up

Leading off the top of the ninth, the Expos had a 2-0 lead and Martinez was looking for his first career no-hitter. Martinez was looking to become the second pitcher of the week to throw no-htter, Kent Mercker tossed a no-hit gem against the Dodgers already that year. 

The Reds sent up Brian Dorsett to lead off the inning. Dorsett at the time was a seven year veteran in the league, coming off the 1993 season where he hit .254 and hit two home runs. 

The veteran Dorsett ledoff the inning with a single, effectively ending Martinez’ no-hitter bid. 

Expos create some drama in the ninth

The Expos removed Martinez following that hit to Dorsett. Martinez earned a standing ovation from the Montreal crowd and he would acknowledge them with a tip of his cap.

All-Star closer John Wetteland came in for the save but ultimately failed to convert in the ninth.gave up a single to pinch-hitter Thomas Howard, then walked Tony Fernandez. Barry Larkin and Hal Morris followed with sacrifice flies.

The Reds plated two runs in the inning to set up a chance for the Expos to win the game in the bottom of the ninth in front of their fans.

Lou Frazier walks it off for the Expos in the ninth

Walker led the inning off, only to ground out to second base.

Fletcher followed and get a base hit to right field. The potential winning run was now on first for the Expos to send the fans home happy. The elder Alou puledl Fletcher from the game in favor for Tim Spehr to pinch run. The younger Alou (Moises), struck out swinging, leaving Spehr at first. 

Floyd followed and single to second allowing Lou Frazier to win it for the hometown nine. The Reds pulled reliever Chuck McElroy in favor for Hector Carrasco. The right-hander would be erratic on the mound and on a 3-1 pitch, Frazier would single into left field, giving the Expos the win. 

This game was one of Martinez’s defining moments during the 1994 season. Martinez would begin to establish himself as a dominant right-hander on the mound. His emergence that season would be a big reason why the Expos were one of the best teams in the National League.  

– Chris Henrique (@ChrisHenrique on Twitter)

Feature image courtesy of NY Post

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