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Matheny finds spot to give young relievers work

ST. LOUIS -- Manager Mike Matheny could have gone any number of directions when he deployed his bullpen in the final two innings of Thursday's 9-1 victory over the Pirates in Game 1 of the National League Division Series. As it was, he opted to prioritize finding work for his two youngest relievers.

In having Carlos Martinez pitch the eighth, Matheny was able to give the 22-year-old rookie his first taste of postseason competition. Martinez rose to the occasion, retiring the side in order and capping his seven-pitch inning with a strikeout of pinch-hitter Jordy Mercer. He also showed off his athleticism in making a highlight defensive play.

Rosenthal, also a 22-year-old rookie, followed with a scoreless ninth. Matheny felt some urgency to pitch Rosenthal since he had not appeared in a game in five days.

"We wanted to make sure we finished that game off," Matheny said. "We're taking nothing for granted. We watched this team come back last time they were in here, and [they] gave us a scare after a big lead. That's not time to start messing around too much. But also try to take advantage of the times that you have to get something accomplished. Getting Carlos on the mound yesterday was something we wanted to accomplish. With Trevor, he needed to pitch."

Adam Wainwright's ability to cover the first seven innings allowed the rest of an already rested bullpen to get an extra day off. Randy Choate and Kevin Siegrist have not pitched since Sunday. Seth Maness, John Axford and Edward Mujica last pitched on Saturday.

Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB.
Read More: St. Louis Cardinals, Carlos Martinez, Trevor Rosenthal