Martínez chalks up 6-run 2nd to 'bad luck'

Cardinals right-hander bounces back after decisive frame against Phillies

April 17th, 2021

will eventually get another victory as a starter.

Sure, the statistical significance of a win for pitchers is up for debate, but in Martínez’s case, it could be indicative of a job well done. He hasn’t won a game as a starter since July 7, 2018, against the Giants, so he took the mound on Friday night hoping to snap the streak.

The wait continues.

Martínez was charged with six runs on five hits in five innings in St. Louis’ 9-2 loss to the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. He walked two and struck out five in the 81-pitch outing.

The results should surprise no one when you consider Martínez’s pitching line. But what happened to him is just as important as what he did or didn’t do.

“It was just bad luck,” Martínez repeated several times after the game.

He had a point. When you add his lack of execution in the eventful second inning and a couple of bad breaks, it’s easy to see why he considered his outing both frustrating and pleasing.

The veteran right-hander cruised through the first inning, but everything -- his command, his team’s defense and his calm demeanor -- changed in the second. He gave up three consecutive one-out base hits, intentionally walked Mickey Moniak and hit Phillies starting pitcher Zach Eflin. He gave up two more hits, walked Rhys Hopkins and hit J.T. Realmuto with a pitch. The wind in the outfield was a factor, and it didn’t help that his defense could not make multiple plays behind him; and by the end of the frame, it was 6-0 Phillies, but the deficit felt like more.

Essentially one bad inning ruined Martínez’s chances of returning to the win column. Ultimately, how he solves the one bad inning that sometimes plagues him will help determine his fate in 2021.

“It wasn’t like he was all over the place,” manager Mike Shildt said. “He just didn’t make an ideal pitch to the pitcher and a couple of balls fell. It’s not so much as what Carlos didn’t do tonight, as much as it just didn’t go his way. What can you do? He makes pitches and gets ground balls, weak contact. One got away from him and there was one good swing by [Bryce] Harper, but other than that, he was pretty good.”

The resilient Martínez retired the last 11 batters he faced, but it wasn’t enough, and he was done after five. Scott Hurst made his big league debut by batting in Martínez’s place with one out in the sixth. He flied out to shortstop.

Martínez has been around long enough to know that he can’t control what happens once the ball is put in play. “It’s out of his control,” he said, so he just concentrates on pitching his game and regaining his focus.

That doesn’t mean Martínez doesn’t get frustrated, because he does. He wants a victory, probably more than anybody. It’s been a really long time since he was in the win column, and now he has to wait even longer.

Unfortunately for Martínez, the Phillies had their own agenda. Philadelphia tacked on two more runs in the seventh. Cardinals left fielder Justin Williams hit his first career home run, a two-run shot to left-center, in the eighth inning. The homer was one of the few highlights on a mostly forgettable night for the Cards.

“Finally a ball on the barrel that does not get caught is honestly what was going through my head,” Williams said. “Like I said in the past, I’m just trying to be in unison with the team and be a team guy.”