Odd-yssey: Martinez records 11K's, 8 walks

April 15th, 2017

NEW YORK -- By the time 's 118-pitch day was over, he had posted as peculiar a pitching line as the Cardinals have seen in some time.

There were fits of erratic command -- which contributed to eight walks -- but also flashes of the electric stuff that helped him strike out 11. In the end, Martinez navigated through the uneven performance without letting the game unravel, though it contributed to a 3-2 loss on Saturday at Yankee Stadium.

"I don't think I've ever seen anything like that," shrugged manager Mike Matheny afterward.

There's good reason for that.

Martinez joined "Wild" Bill Hallahan as the only pitchers in Cardinals history to strike out 11 and walk eight in a start. Hallahan did so twice in 1930. Martinez was the 27th pitcher in Major League history to do so, and the first since Randy Johnson in 1993. Remarkably, Nolan Ryan hit those walk and strikeout totals in a game 13 different times.

It was evident from the start that Martinez would be fighting his command. He walked the first two batters of the game and, after sandwiching a pair of strikeouts, walked two more. By the end of the second, Martinez had faced 12 batters and not one had made fair contact. Martinez, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, became the first pitcher in 60 years to tally at least six strikeouts and six walks in the first two innings of a game.

The Yankees put their first ball in play on Martinez's 62nd pitch.

"He has great stuff," Yankees third baseman said. "You see the pitch count starting to get up there, and then as a team you really focus on making him throw multiple strikes per at-bat because you want to get him out of there. When he's on, he has some of the best stuff in baseball."

The two-seamer, a pitch Martinez hoped to rely on to keep balls from leaving a hitter-friendly park, gave him the most fits. Command of the changeup came and went as well, and Martinez struggled to keep his delivery and release point in sync from one pitch to the next.

"I did feel like something was a little bit off," Martinez said, speaking through a translator. "I really tried to work through it. And once I'm in the game, I'm obligated to throw that pitch even though it might not feel right. I tried to do my best."

Nonetheless, Martinez minimized the damage along the way. He stranded five runners through the first five innings while allowing one run, and Matheny sent him back out in the sixth with a pitch count of 106. A missed fly ball and errant throw left him to shoulder two more runs (one earned) before he was pulled with one out.

Two of the three runs allowed by Martinez -- who became the first Cardinals pitcher to throw 118 pitches in an April start since 2008, came on two other misfires -- a wild pitch and an error throwing home.

"When he found the zone, he was electric," Matheny said. "But he had trouble staying in it. Amazing that he got into the sixth like he did, as deep as he went, with that many free bases."