The revived “City Series” had been a competitive affair since its revival in 1997. After being swept at home in 1997, the Red Sox traveled to Atlanta in 1998 and took two out of three games. With the series now at 3-2, the Sox returned to Boston in 1999 hoping to finally beat their former intracity rivals in their former shared city and tie the series at 3-3. Of course, much of the fanfare surrounding the Braves and their return to Boston had died off since 1997. Much of the excitement around the first game of their 1999 series, on June 4, centered on the fact that the Sox and Braves were both leaders in their respective divisions and had almost identical records. The Braves were 32-21 and the Red Sox were 32-19. The two teams were also sending out former Cy Young Award winners in Pedro Martinez and Concord, Massachusetts native Tom Glavine to do battle.
Pedro and Glavine entered that mild June night with 1-0 records in this series. Glavine had recorded a win in 1997 at Fenway Park and Martinez recorded a win over the Braves at Turner Field. Glavine hoped to retain a perfect record in his home state while Pedro hoped to continue the other worldly season he was having in 1999. In 1999, Pedro Martinez was on another level from every other pitcher in the game. He entered this game with a 2.01 ERA, an unthinkably low mark during the steroid era. He had also won 10 games and lost only one, which came in his third start of the season against the Chicago White Sox. Tom Glavine on the other hand was struggling out of the gate. The defending National League Cy Young winner, Glavine hadn’t been able to duplicate his 1998 season. He entered this game, 3-6 with a 4.77 ERA, his highest since his first full time season in 1988.
Pedro Martinez would put on a pitching performance for the ages, striking out a then-career high 16 batters, including every batter in the Braves lineup at least once. It was his eight time that season pitching a game with at least 10 strikeouts and 16th overall in a Red Sox uniform, just two behind Smoky Joe Wood for 2nd all time in Sox history.
Glavine looked disheveled from the start, getting himself into four three-ball counts and giving up 3 hits, including two runs on a pair of singles from Troy O’Leary and Damon Buford. The Sox scored their third run in the third off of a Jeff Fyre single that scored Buford from second. Fyre would also give the Sox their fourth run after stealing home in the 6th. A Ryan Klesko home run in the 7th gave the Braves their lone run of the game. Glavine left the game after the 7th with a 4-1 deficit. He gave up 4 runs on 8 hits, recorded 4 strikeouts, and issued 2 walks. It was a respectable performance by almost any measure but not enough to beat Pedro.
Pedro was dialed in from the first inning. He started the game with a two fly ball outs from infielders Walt Weiss and Bret Boone, he then issued a walk to Chipper Jones, and struck out clean up hitter Brian Jordan to end the inning. For Jordan, it was the first of four strikeouts. He looked to be wading in troubled waters in the 2nd when catcher Javy Lopez led off with a hit and then Ryan Klesko walked to put runners on first and second with no outs. Andruw Jones struck out and then Randall Simon grounded out to put Pedro in position to end the inning. With Lopez on third and ready to score, Pedro sent the Braves back to the dugout with a Gerald Williams strikeout.
In the third and fourth, Pedro struck out 4 of the 6 batters he faced but almost encountered trouble again when Andruw Jones led off the 5th with a double and was moved to third on a wild pitch to Randall Simon. Pedro recovered to strike out Simon and then Gerald Williams, and then end the inning with a Walt Weiss pop-fly to Nomar Garciaparra at short. This would be the last time that a Braves runner would get into scoring position. Klesko’s solo home run was practically the sole shining light for the rest of the game.
The Sox would win the game, 5-1, and give Glavine his National League leading 7th loss of the season.
As for Pedro, he would continue to dominate throughout the 1999 season. Just a month later, he would be voted the starter for the American League in the All-Star Game at Fenway Park where he would put on a dominant performance, including striking out the first five batters. He would also top his 16 strikeout performance in a September game against the New York Yankees where he struck out 17 batters. He would end the year with a 23-4 record, a league leading 2.04 ERA, and 313 strikeouts (also a league leader). Needless to say, he easily took home the American League Cy Young Award.
The Sox/Braves have continued to meet regularly over the years and are now designed as “split rivals,” meaning that they meet in interleague play during every even year. The teams have met 72 times with the Sox leading the series 40-32.