Martinez's woes have Cards rethinking eighth inning
ST LOUIS -- The struggles for 22-year-old Cardinals reliever Carlos Martinez during the month of May have been evident.
Even after Martinez tossed two scoreless innings against New York on Monday, his troubles returned Thursday when he allowed three baserunners and three earned runs while failing to finish the eighth inning that he started in a 6-5 loss to the Giants.
The performances leave Martinez fighting to find consistency.
"Just like a swing comes and goes, so does your slider. Just like a swing comes and goes, so does your sinker," manager Mike Matheny said. "The kid's fighting to find the consistency, and it'll come back. He'll be better for it in the long run like the rest of these guys when they struggle."
Meanwhile, Martinez's struggles have the Cardinals without a certain plan for eighth-inning situations. Matheny said the team would have typically gone to reliever Kevin Siegrist in Thursday's situation. He was placed on the 15-day disabled list last Saturday with a forearm strain.
"Now we're going to continue to look at it and figure out what we're going to do," Matheny said. "I don't see it as being something set in stone."
Martinez, who at times has blown hitters away with his triple-digit fastball, posted a 2.93 ERA in 13 appearances during April, but with the change in month have come difficulties.
The blown save in the eighth Thursday night was Martinez's fourth of the month. In May, he has allowed runners to reach base via hit or walk in 10 of 13 games and has posted a 7.11 ERA while allowing 15 hits, 10 earned runs and five walks in 12 2/3 innings.
Hitters are batting .300 off him this month.
"It just comes down to making good pitches," Matheny said. "Right now I think everybody knows his stuff -- we keep calling it electric and it is. You get too much of the plate to a good hitter, even with electric stuff, it's going to get hit and that's what we saw [Thursday]."
Matheny said Pat Neshek, who hasn't allowed a run in 20 consecutive appearances, is an eighth-inning option. For now, there is no certainty in who the team will use, going game by game as Martinez works toward consistency.
"We're trying to put guys in right positions and we go back to some of the good outings that we've seen Carlos have," Matheny said. "There's some things that he's going to have to sort through again to get back there."