01 April 1998 – On this day fifteen years ago, pitcher Pedro Martinez makes his debut with Boston and strikes out 11 Oakland batters while allowing just three hits in seven shutout innings; the Red Sox go on to win 2-0 over the Athletics at Networks Associates Coliseum.
Martinez, who debuted with the Los Angeles Dodgers at age 20 in 1992, had spent his previous four seasons with the Montreal Expos. In 1997, he easily won the National League Cy Young Award, posting a 17-8 record with 13 complete games, a 1.90 ERA, an ERA+ of 219, a WHIP of 0.932, and strikeout per nine innings average of 11.4. In November of that same year, the cash-strapped Expos traded Martinez to the Red Sox, where he would sign a six-year, $75 million contract, at the time the largest deal ever for a pitcher.
In Oakland, Martinez started the game by retiring the first eleven batters he faced; his first strikeout victim while wearing a Boston uniform was Dave Magadan, who would later serve as the Red Sox hitting coach. In the fifth inning, he struck out the side: Scott Spiezio, A.J. Hinch, and Jason McDonald. He finished his debut by striking out the last two batters he faced with runners at second and third base. In total, he threw 116 pitches, 71 for strikes, and walked just two batters while scattering three hits and striking out 11 batters. He also had at least one strikeout in each inning of work.
Martinez would go on to post a 19-7 record, a 2.89 ERA, an ERA+ of 163, a WHIP of 1.091, and a strikeout per nine innings average of 9.7 in his debut season with Boston. He would also finish second to former Red Sox ace Roger Clemens in the Cy Young Award vote.