Carlos Martinez grew up in the home of his grandmother, of whom he calls "Mom", in Puerto Plata of the Dominican Republic. When the heavy rains fell, Carlos and his family moved the furniture to higher ground in order to avoid seeing their possessions swept away in the ensuing flood that rushed through the modest house. Even then as a small child, Carlos Martinez dreamed big dreams. He dreamed of one day playing major league baseball. He wanted to achieve the acclaim and accolades that came with being a big leaguer, but more importantly, he wanted to move his grandmother to house out of the flood zone.
Carlos thought his dreams had come true when he was signed in 2009 as an international free agent with $140,000 signing bonus by the Red Sox. Major League Baseball voided this contract, along with the signing bonus, however, after the organization discovered discrepancies in his name and date of birth. Carlos's mother died when he was young and he was adopted by an uncle with the last name of Mattias, the name by which he was raised. Although Carlos never intended to deceive Major League Baseball, he and his dreams were suspended by the organization for a year. Perhaps this was an act of fate, for in the meantime John Mozeliak and the St. Louis Cardinals, the team that in 2008 had signed his childhood friend, Oscar Taveras, worked diligently to solve Carlos's visa problems. After his suspension was up the following year, the Cardinals signed him with a $1.5 million signing bonus.
Today Carlos Martinez, wearing the jersey number eighteen to honor his childhood friend and teammate who died in a fatal car crash last October, made his seventh start for the Cardinals amidst much criticisms and doubt. His first four starts showcased the potential and raw talent of the young starter as he pitched brilliantly; his last two uncovered the struggles of an inexperienced pitcher still finding his way and featured sixteen hits, two of which were home runs, eight walks, and fourteen earned runs surrendered by the youngster. Those two games have called some to question not necessarily Martinez's ability, but his "mental toughness" and his "emotions".
Thinking Martinez "mentally fragile" is a big mistake and tonight he showed why.
The Tigers came into this game with the third best wRC+ in the majors at 112 and the second best batting average at .277. Despite the challenges it presented, Carlos navigated the lineup beautifully. His fastball was electric, reaching 98 mph at times. Five batters fell victim to it, swinging wildly in vain, and a sixth was caught watching it dumbly. The change up fooled a hitter, and Triple Crown winner, Miguel Cabrera, was fooled on a curveball in the top of the fifth. Martinez's final line was five innings pitched, seven hits, two earned runs, two walks, and eight strikeouts, his only real mistake made in the second inning when he hung a 1-2 curveball dead center in the zone to 2013 and 2014 Home Run Derby champion Yoenis Cespedes.
The other eight (!!!) runs were scored off the bullpen in the seventh, eighth, and ninth innings. After Matt Belisle pitched a scoreless sixth, Mitch Harris came in the game in the seventh allowing three runs (all with two outs) on a walk, a homer, and another homer. Miguel Socolovich allowed a run to score in the eighth on a double followed by two singles. Then, after climbing back into the game with two-run home runs from Peralta (in the seventh) and Heyward (in the eighth) to put the Cards within two, Seth Maness allowed four runs in the top of ninth on a various hodge-podge of hits to put the game on ice.
- This six run loss is the worst of the year for the Cardinals and I am so happy to have shared this moment with you.
- Sometimes the bullpen just has to eat it and I think this game is an example of that. They cannot be nails every single night, I suppose.
- This is only the second loss I have had to recap this season and I had forgotten how depressing it is.
- PUT MATT CARPENTER BACK IN THE LEADOFF SPOT.
- I linked it above, but if you haven't read Carlos Martinez's blog, you should. Here is the link.
PEST OF THE GAME/HONARY SCOOTER GENNETT AWARD
Tigers pitcher Shane Greene held the Birdos scoreless for five innings before exiting the game early due to some undisclosed nerve issue and therefore accumulated .214 WPA, .279 as a pitcher, -.062 as a hitter. So he gets this prestigious award by default.
The charming Tyler Lyons squares off against the darling David Price tomorrow afternoon at 1:15pm.