Martinez continues to fill void in Cards' lineup

Shildt: 'He's willing to do it all and do it well'

April 21st, 2019

ST. LOUIS -- When Cardinals outfielders (hamstring) and (right elbow) both went down with injuries last week, Jose Martinez was there to play his role.

Taking over in right field after moved to center in Bader’s absence, Martinez has filled the gap in the outfield -- and the lineup, stringing together consistent at-bats.

He continued to do so Sunday, in the Cardinals’ 6-4 victory in the series finale against the Mets at Busch Stadium.

“I’m going to be ready for whatever situation,” Martinez said. “You never know. When [manager Mike] Shildt tells you be ready for whenever, that makes me focus more every day, trying to anticipate every situation.”

Martinez has hit safely in each of his last seven starts (14-for-29, .483) with one home run, two doubles and six RBIs in those games. On Sunday, he wasn’t so much the player to bring the runs in; instead, he was the one to spark a series of runs off of Mets starter .

After drawing his first walk of the season in the second inning, Martinez was able to score off a single from . Then, in the third inning, Martinez's single -- a soft fly ball that fell in front of right fielder -- set up an RBI groundout from and a Fowler double, which brought in Martinez to extend the Cardinals' lead to four runs at the time.

With three hits each on Friday and Saturday, and a career-high four against the Dodgers on April 11, he became the fourth Cardinal to record three straight home games with at least three hits at the current Busch Stadium.

In and out of the starting lineup to begin the season, Martinez was semi-permanently plugged into the lineup in right field Tuesday against the Brewers. It was then that his current five-game hitting streak began. He said his approach doesn’t change whether he’s starting or coming off the bench.

With Bader and O'Neill expected to return to the roster this week, the dilemma for the Cardinals could become where to give the hot-hitting Martinez playing time. Regardless of what happens, he’ll rely on the mindset he has when he arrives at the ballpark -- be ready for whatever situation arises.

“He’s been a gracious teammate, and he’s valuable because he’s willing to do it all and do it well,” Shildt said. “He’s had an opportunity to get out there and get some consistent at-bats. He’s a good and professional hitter, and he does what he does. He takes good at-bats in the situations. Good teammate, good player.”

The Mets hit four homers to the Cardinals' none on Sunday -- all of them solo shots -- but the Cardinals’ offense was able to out-hit the Mets overall, 8-7. Seven different Cardinals players combined for the eight hits off Syndergaard, while also showing aggressiveness on the basepaths.

“We have a really talented offense, and a lot of different skillsets,” Shildt said. “And we incorporate our baserunning, too. Understanding how to create situations and understanding how to be ready for situations on the bases with that. This group is very intentional because every situation is a situation. … We have a group of talented hitters that have a good approach to understand what that looks like."

Hudson notches first win

 can take a deep breath after Sunday’s game against the Mets. He finally got his first Major League win as a starter.

“It’s big,” Hudson said. “Getting my confidence going a little bit. Getting everything together, but now I can say, ‘Hey, I’m a starter. I got a win as a starter.’”

The right-hander wasn’t perfect -- he lasted five innings, giving up five hits and three runs -- but he was able to keep the Mets contained enough for the victory. Those three runs all came off of solo home runs, including one by Syndergaard in the fourth inning that was pushed just over the wall by Fowler’s glove in center field.

But Hudson (1-1, 5.89 ERA) is learning and processing how to pitch in the Major Leagues. In the third inning, he worked himself out of a bases-loaded jam when he threw out Pete Alonso -- who had hit a monster home run in the first inning -- at home and then forced Jeff McNeil to fly out to end the inning.

Hudson gives a lot of the credit to veteran catcher  for his development.

“He’s helping me learn as I go, and that’s a big key,” Hudson said. “I feel like that’s going to keep me going for it. Hung a couple of pitches -- still trying to keep the ball on the ground, still not there, but I feel like I’m processing it pretty good, and moving in the right direction.”