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A Postcard Says It All for Martinez : Toronto Catcher Happy After Homer; Tough Times for Key, Petry

Associated Press

The postcard thumbnailed above Buck Martinez’s locker reads, “Tough times never last . . . tough people do.”

It was tough times for some, like pitchers Jimmy Key of Toronto and Dan Petry of Detroit, and the best of times for others, like Martinez, at Exhibition Stadium Thursday night.

“This has meant a lot to me; it’s become my personal good luck piece,” Martinez said of the postcard, received earlier this week from fans.

The Toronto catcher suffered through some tough times at the plate in May, going 0 for 32, but on Thursday night clubbed a two-run home run off reliever Aurelio Lopez, 0-4, in the 12th inning to give the Blue Jays a 2-0 victory over the Tigers.

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Lopez started the inning by hitting George Bell with a pitch and designated hitter Len Matuszek flied out to center prior to Martinez’s homer.

“After the way Jimmy pitched for us tonight and the opportunities we had to score, but didn’t, this would have been a tough game to lose,” said Martinez, whose fourth homer of the year helped the Blue Jays open a 7 1/2-game lead over the third-place Tigers in the American League East. The second-place Baltimore Orioles, who were idle Thursday, trail Toronto by 5 1/2 games.

Key flirted with no-hit fame until Tom Brookens lashed a line-drive single to left field leading off the ninth inning.

“I was definitely thinking about the no-hitter when the inning started and I was pumped up a bit,” said Key, who had a perfect game through 5 innings before Brookens reached on shortstop Tony Fernandez’s fielding error in the sixth. “I was disappointed for the moment (after Brookens’s hit), but the game was still tied 0-0 and I knew I had to keep concentrating.”

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Key lasted 10 innings, giving way to Gary Lavelle in the 11th after finishing with two hits, six strikeouts and two walks. He also lowered his earned run average to 2.38, second-best in the league behind Jack Morris of the Tigers.

It was a bit difficult for Key to accept the fact he’d pitched 10 shutout innings and come away with no decision, but even more difficult for teammate Jim Acker to pitch one inning, the 12th, and get the victory.

“I feel like a buzzard,” said Acker, 2-0. “I wish he (Key) could’ve got the win.”

It was also a trying night for Detroit right-hander Petry, who pitched 10 shutout innings of his own. He scattered six hits, struck out five and walked three.

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“The pitching duel was pretty exciting,” said Petry, who had lost his last two starts. “Key pitched pretty good against us in spring training and when I found out he was pitching tonight I said, ‘Well, that was spring training.’ ”

Detroit catcher Lance Parrish, who grounded out four times against Key, said, “Petry pitched great. It was the best game he’s thrown all year, but Key pitched great, too.”

Tigers Manager Sparky Anderson praised both Key and Petry for outstanding efforts, but when asked if losing the first game of the four-game series was crucial, replied, “We have to win a game, period.”

Tiger ace reliever Willie Hernandez fell on his shoulder after catching a pop bunt in the 11th inning and was replaced by Lopez in the 12th.

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“It stiffened up on him a bit and he’d pitched four innings the other night, so we decided to go with Lopez,” said Anderson.


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