ST. LOUIS -- Carlos Martinez, armed with one of the best pitch arsenals in baseball, has finally settled in.
Saturday afternoon, he sliced through the AL’s winningest lineup for seven innings, striking out four and giving up just three hits in his 101 pitches.
“In the first inning I felt a little bit [off] but by the second inning I felt like I was getting my rhythm back,” he said through an interpreter. “I was able to get my usual mechanics back.”
After coming out wild in the first, the 24-year-old stranded the bases loaded by inducing an inning-ending double play up the middle. From then on, he was barely touchable. He allowed just three runners over the next six innings, two of them reaching on infield singles. In fact, only two balls were put in the air over the last 18 outs.
Martinez has been rolling since being manhandled by the Cubs on May 25, a start in which he surrendered six runs on six hits in five laborious innings.
Since then he’s thrown 29.1 innings over his last four outings, allowing 19 hits and just four runs.
“In the beginning of the season I felt like I was going through a slump. Now I finally feel like I’m getting back,” he said. “I feel very mature. My mind is on the game and I’m ready to keep this going.”
Martinez was absent the joie de vivre he characteristically displays after such a performance, likely because the Cardinals suffered an eventual 4-3 loss. Finally free of Martinez, the Rangers scraped two runs across in each of the final two innings and handed St. Louis their fourth straight defeat.
“This one had a lot of bite to it,” Mike Matheny said after the game, noting how frustrating the defeat was.
It has to be doubly upsetting for the Cardinal starters. In the last three games, Adam Wainwright, Michael Wacha and Martinez have all gone at least seven innings. The trio combined for 65 outs and allowed just one total run, but the team lost all three contests.
With the seven scoreless innings, Martinez leads the rotation with a 3.17 ERA and is now just outside the top 20 National League starters in that category. His WHIP of 1.09 is 15th in the league.