NEW YORK -- If the Mets' season ends this weekend or in a tiebreaker game on Monday, Shea Stadium probably had its final glimpse of Pedro Martinez pitching in a home white uniform. Martinez suspects his time with Mets is at least limited and possibly complete. So when he walked from Shea's mound to the Mets' dugout in the seventh inning on Thursday night, he slowed, removed his cap and waved to the applauding fans who seemingly shared the same suspicion.
Martinez was waving farewell to them and expressing his gratitude after they had done the same.
"It's been a fun place for me," Martinez said after the Mets beat the Cubs, 7-6. "I wanted to show the fans my appreciation just in case this might have been my last game as a Met or my last start as a Met. It was the wrong time to think about those things, but when they started to clap for me, I thought they might be thinking the same thing."
If it was his final start at Shea, Martinez afforded the doomed park a decent send-off. After allowing two runs in the first inning -- Martinez endured what has become his requisite first-inning trouble, and he now has allowed 23 earned runs in 20 first innings -- he allowed one more before his exit in the seventh. But one pitch after his departure, two more runs were charged to his account.
Ricardo Rincon, his successor, surrendered a three-run home run on his first pitch to Micah Hoffpauir, the left-handed-hitting rookie who had accounted for two of the first three runs against Martinez.
Martinez had allowed seven hits -- one was Hoffpauir's first big league home run -- and four walks and struck out nine, a season high for him, before Rincon was summoned.
And Martinez felt better about his work on Thursday than he had in his recent starts. His fastball touched 90 mph a few times; it hit 92 once.
"I'm not very happy with the game," he said. "I thought I'd stay longer. But I felt better today. I'd like to pitch more times when I feel as good as I did tonight. But I don't know. Nobody does."
Marty Noble is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.