SAN FRANCISCO -- Even before his first at-bat in Sunday's 7-3 win over the Giants, St. Louis first baseman Jose Martinez figured the Cardinals were in for a big day against San Francisco ace Madison Bumgarner.Tommy Pham hit a ball off Bumgarner in the first inning that Giants center fielder
SAN FRANCISCO -- Even before his first at-bat in Sunday's 7-3 win over the Giants, St. Louis first baseman Jose Martinez figured the Cardinals were in for a big day against San Francisco ace Madison Bumgarner.
Tommy Pham hit a ball off Bumgarner in the first inning that Giants center fielder Gorkys Hernandez brought back from over the wall with a spectacular catch. Even though Pham was out, Martinez saw it as an encouraging omen.
"As soon as Tommy hit the ball like that, that gave us a sign that [Bumgarner was] missing some spots," Martinez said. "He's trying to make pitches and he's missing some spots, so go out there and take advantage of his mistake and try to make something happen. That's what we did today."
No one did it as well as Martinez. The 29-year-old first baseman homered, doubled twice and drove in three runs while extending his hitting streak to five games with one of his best offensive days this season. That continued an encouraging trend for Martinez, who is hitting .323 (20-for-62) with four home runs and 10 RBIs since Aug. 1.
"I was just waiting for a chance," Martinez said. "The opportunity that the Cardinals are giving me right now is huge. Every time I show up to the field, I have to do something. Work hard, work on my defense, work on the hitting, learn more about this league. I'm just trying to show up every day and do the best I can to help the team win."
On a day when the Cardinals powered up for three home runs and three doubles while resting Randal Grichuk, William Fowler and Matt Carpenter, Martinez stood out while helping St. Louis pull within three games of Colorado for the second National League Wild Card spot.
Martinez hit his 11th home run this season as part of back-to-back shots off Bumgarner in the fourth, one batter after Paul DeJong's team-leading 21st homer. Martinez also doubled and scored in the sixth, then hit a run double off Kyle Crick in the seventh.
"Jose's a great hitter, and [Harrison] Bader's a high-energy player, so you're not losing much when [Grichuk, Fowler and Carpenter] sit," Pham said. "[Martinez] is having a great year offensively. He's always been a tough out. Doesn't strike out a lot, drives the ball, uses the whole field. That combination usually means success."
Before the game, Cardinals manager Mike Matheny spoke highly of Martinez and credited him for taking advantage of the playing time he's been getting lately. After the game, he continued the praise.
"He looks great," Matheny said. "He hits the ball hard. He's got big power. I was impressed today defensively -- a beautiful play going to his backhand side, made a couple tough picks. He's been working on it. He's just in a real nice spot right now."
Michael Wagaman is a contributor to MLB.com based in the Bay Area who covered the Cardinals on Sunday.