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Martinez doesn't allow delays to disrupt outing

ST. LOUIS -- Carlos Martinez got a groundout from Addison Russell to end the second inning, and then nearly two hours passed before he threw another pitch in the Cardinals' 4-1 win over the Cubs on Sunday night, bringing about a test for the St. Louis righty.

A one-hour, 43-minute rain delay followed a rain-delayed start to the sweep-securing victory at Busch Stadium and interrupted Martinez's eighth consecutive quality start, but did not derail it. The 23-year-old right-hander became the first on a dominant St. Louis staff to reach 100 strikeouts this season when Chris Coghlan missed a curveball on Martinez's last pitch of the night, to end the Cubs' half of the sixth inning.

If not for the two delays, Martinez would have pitched at least one more inning, manager Mike Matheny said. As it was, Martinez threw 84 pitches in his ninth win of the season.

"If he goes back out there and is real efficient and we didn't have a delay, we keep riding him," Matheny said. "His stuff didn't look like it was faltering there late. We did take into consideration that there were two extra hours that he was staying locked in, I think as much mentally as physically."

Asked if he would have felt comfortable pitching the seventh inning, Martinez said a few words in Spanish, and then his translator said, "Complete game."

To stay loose during the second-inning delay, Martinez said he went to the batting cages and threw every 5-10 minutes, but that it was a challenge not knowing for sure whether he would be asked to continue pitching when the game restarted.

When it did, Martinez allowed a leadoff double to the first batter he faced, Dexter Fowler, but didn't give up another hit.

Since allowing seven runs in back-to-back starts to begin May, Martinez has rattled off six wins in eight straight quality starts in a spurt that has showcased both his mental and physical maturation.

"The biggest difference I see is he just throws so many strikes now and gets so many swings and misses," said first baseman Xavier Scruggs, who came through the organization's Minor League system with Martinez. "He's just looking untouchable. He always had the fastball in the Minors when I was playing with him, but now he has a whole arsenal that is just disgusting. It's nasty."

As for the psychological side of things, Scruggs has seen development there, too.

"Oh yeah. A lot more poised," he said. "Not as emotional. He's still an emotional guy, but he doesn't let his emotions get to him and take him out of the game. It's been great to watch him mature."

David Cobb is an associate reporter for
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