Hairston's stats say he just might have Martinez's number

O's infielder modest -- and 4-for-5 in his career against Red Sox's ace

April 03, 2001|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

Jerry Hairston put a quick end to talk that he owns Boston Red Sox pitcher Pedro Martinez.

"Don't tell him that because he might get upset and really start pitching me tough," said Hairston, who has four hits in five career at-bats against Martinez.

Hairston might not want to claim mastery of Martinez, but he should get some credit for yesterday's season-opening, 11-inning, 2-1 win over the Red Sox at Camden Yards. He went 3-for-4, including a single and double off Martinez, and scored both Orioles runs.

Hairston, in his first season as the starting second baseman, also stole a base."[Hairston] was big," said left fielder Delino DeShields, last year's starting second baseman. "Somebody had to step up today. When a guy is out there like Pedro, it's going to be a long day. Somebody had to step up for us, and Jerry did."

Batting ninth, Hairston singled to right in the third, then doubled to lead off the sixth. He stole third as center fielder Brady Anderson struck out and scored on Mike Bordick's single to right to tie the game at 1.

Hairston doubled again to lead off the 11th, this time off reliever Derek Lowe, and scored easily on Anderson's single to win the game.

Afterward, Hairston gave an assist to the crowd for letting him know Anderson's ground ball had reached the outfield.

"I knew he hit it hard," Hairston said. "The angle I saw, I thought it was going to the second baseman. I was surprised it went through. I heard the crowd roar so I knew it must be through. I took a bad angle anticipating a throw to first base, but I was glad it went through."

Hairston also was looking forward to a good night's sleep.

"I didn't sleep at all, not a wink," he said. "Your first Opening Day as the starting second baseman with Pedro Martinez coming at you, would you sleep?"

Last year, Hairston spent most of the first four months of the season at Triple-A Rochester before being called up Aug. 11 and starting the last 49 games.

Hairston, 24, finished the season batting .256. He had an uneventful spring training this season (17 hits in 69 bats). He, though, knew he would be in the lineup come Opening Day.

And he knew that start would likely come against Martinez, a man whom he respects but also enjoys the challenge of batting against.

"I can't explain that at all," Hairston said of his success against Martinez. "It's one of those things where you have to have respect for him. He's a tremendous pitcher, and you can't help but get up for that.

"I know he's throwing the baseball, but when the baseball leaves his hand, it's just you against the baseball."

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