St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Carlos Martinez gave up a monster two-run homer in the first inning Tuesday and another run in the second.
Last year or before, he would have unraveled because of the early struggles. But Martinez has turned the corner as a professional in 2015 not because his pitches are better. It’s because his mental composure is better.
In 2014 and before, Martinez was fantastic -- until he ran into trouble. He was terrible after that. He’d pitch two perfect innings then give up a lead-off hit or walk and then he’d fall apart.
Why? Because his only resort was to try an overpower hitters with his fastball when he was frustrated. Not only was his pitching pattern predictable. But the action on his pitches was lessened when he over-threw the baseball.
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He’s learned to trust his stuff and his defense.
On Tuesday, Martinez wasn’t flawless. But he was resilient. He scattered eight hits over seven innings. But he didn’t allow another run after the second, giving the Cardinals hitters a chance to catch up and, eventually, take the lead in the game. He struck out nine and walked only one.
Kevin Seigrist and closer Trevor Rosenthal worked two scoreless innings of relief to secure the come-from-behind win to reward Martinez with a decision. He’s now 8-3 with a 2.89 ERA for the season.
To complete the team victory, Jason Heyward continued his hot streak with a home run and Mark Reynolds, a power hitter notorious for his all-or-nothing approach coming into the season, cut down his swing in a tied game and singled up the middle to drive in the deciding run.
These little things add up to the difference in games despite the rash of injuries the Redbirds have suffered in 2015.
Hopefully a team that is off to one of the best starts in Cardinals history, will only get better as some of its injured players return from the disabled list.