There comes a moment in every season, sometimes a few, where the ace of the staff is asked to be the stopper. In the 116-win season we find ourselves in, we've had few truly worrisome events or streaks, but instead just a steady leak diminishing the depth of our reserves. This week in Colorado is the first time I find myself a little concerned about the bigger picture of 2015. It's not just a question of the regular season division race or the playoffs individually, but whether this team can really weather the sheer number of injuries its sustaining and still come out the other end as a top-tier team in quality.
This win had a few single-serve answers to some of the longer term questions that will face this team. This ability to respond to flaws quickly and emphatically is the type of devil magic that makes opposing teams give up and accept our dominance. I like that.
With no action on the base paths through 3 2/3 innings, Martinez threw his hat in the ring to fill the mammoth hole in our offense left by one Matt Holliday, stroking a single to center. Wong and Carpenter kept the two-out hits coming with singles and the Cardinals were able to score two off of an error by someone by the name of Brandon Barnes and a wild pitch by the equally obscure Chad Bettis. Martinez's post-Holliday injury batting average is now .667, which is actually beating the former-slugger-now-on-base machine's year long numbers.
On the mound, Martinez made good use of 3 ground-outs and 2 strikeouts (1 fly out as well) to dance around a double off the bat of LeMahieu in the first and an infield single in the second. In the bottom of the third, Carlos struck out his first batter and then got the final two outs via flyout after a single by Charlie Blackmon.
The Cardinals were mostly quiet in the fourth with their only action coming on a single by Molina and a walk by Bourjos, but they couldn't scratch across a run, settling on turning over the order. The bottom of the inning also ended up a goose egg with Carlos working around a lead off double by Gonzalez.
The remaining Matt rounded the base paths again hitting a single and scoring on a double by Reynolds, who actually made it all the way to third because Danny Descalso.
Martinez kept his spotless line through six, but not much further. Ben Paulsen launched his final, and 106th, pitch deep to left center to pull the Rockies within 1, but Kevin "thank god he's healthy this season" Siegrist closed the door in the 7th with a strikeout and flyout.
Randall "the Savior" Grichuk homered to lead off the 8th and provide a little breathing room for the relief corps, not that they've necessarily needed it this year. Heyward hit a double and Peter Kozma walked(!), but no more runs were scored.
In fact, Siegrist and Rosenthal decided enough was enough and just set the Rockies down in order the last two innings on 5 strikeouts, the lone (in play) contact being made on a ground out to Matt by Wilin Rosario.
I know I started off by talking about Martinez and how much I love him, but I'd like to emphasize how impressive this relief corps is doing. Kevin Siegrist now has 38 strikeouts through 26.1 innings paired with a 1.71 era. He's been incredibly impressive and yet is fully eclipsed by Rosie and his .62 era (and very similar 31/29 K/IP ratio). Ok now that I look at it again, there's no eclipse except of the batters box, which is apparently empty most of the time late in Cardinals games as the players also submit to.... Cardinal Devil Magic.