Throw provides Lastings memory

Throw provides Lastings memory

NEW YORK -- One day, they'll look back and still talk about "the throw."

On a night in which two of the best pitchers in the Major Leagues, Pedro Martinez and Brandon Webb, were battling each other on the mound, the most impressive strike at Shea Stadium came from Milledge to David Wright.

Martinez, who leads the Majors in strikeouts, and Webb, ranked first in the National League in ERA, were in a classic duel, and it was clear one run might prove the difference.

And, in fact, it did, with Endy Chavez's walk-off single in the 13th inning off Diamondbacks reliever Jason Grimsley to give the Mets a 1-0 victory.

In the sixth, Craig Counsell hit a leadoff single off Martinez. Martinez forced Eric Byrnes into a flyout for the first out of the inning.

Then, "it" happened.

Chad Tracy, swinging on the first pitch, singled through the right side of the infield. Counsell, who was running on the pitch, turned the corner at second and appeared to be on a clean path to third. As the ball rolled towards Milledge, the Mets phenom prospect calmly approached it, swept his glove along the ground and came up firing.

As the ball sailed through the air on a perfect line to David Wright, memories of Darryl Strawberry came to mind. Counsell, running hard into third, slid to the ground but had no chance.

Wright easily caught the perfect strike and tagged Counsell for the second out of the inning. Counsell, clearly stunned by the play, could only shake his head and glance back towards Milledge as he returned to the dugout. Martinez induced Luis Gonzalez into a flyout on the next pitch to end the inning.

"It was a bullet," said Wright. "It definitely changed the momentum for them."

As the Mets returned to their dugout, the 37,735 in attendance at Shea Stadium let out a thunderous ovation, similar to the previous night, when Milledge got his first career hit as a Major Leaguer.

Martinez and the rest of the Mets waited in appreciation as well, with the ace right-hander first in line.

"That was touching," said Tony Milledge, his father, who was seated in the front row next to the Mets dugout with Linda, Lastings' mother, and Anthony, his older brother. "When he played in the Little League World Series, there was something like 30,000 people there, but this crowd was amazing. This is completely another world."

If youth had topped experience in the sixth, the opposite had been true in the second inning. With two outs, Martinez forced Johnny Estrada into a lazy line drive to Milledge in right. Surprisingly, and inexplicably, the ball glanced off the glove of the top prospect drafted 12th overall in the 2003 First-Year Player Draft. Estrada was safe at first and Martinez then gave up a single to Orlando Hudson. And the boo-birds came out at Shea.

"Hey, he was officially a New Yorker now that he had some boos," said Randolph. "He just missed it, but the kid competes and he came back later to make a great throw."

The elder Martinez helped out the kid as well. The 14-year-veteran shook off the mistake and got Webb -- with the assistance of a diving Jose Valentin -- to ground out to end the inning.

And, fittingly, Milledge was the first one to pat Martinez on the back when he returned to the dugout.

"It was nice to know [Martinez] was behind me," said Milledge. "And, later on, it was good to see the New York fans were too."

Chris Girandola is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.