Nathan Grimm

Baseball Daily Dose

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Dose: Martinez Gets His Shot

Sunday, April 8, 2018


Opportunities have been rare and hard-won for Jose Martinez.

 

The now-28-year-old was signed by the White Sox as an amateur free agent in February 2006. He toiled in the minors for the next decade, being granted free agency and signing minor league contracts three different times.

 

At nearly every stop, he hit. In parts of 11 minor league seasons, Martinez owns a .294/.355/.411 career line. And still, the call never came.

 

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When Martinez finally made his MLB debut on September 6, 2016, it was with his fourth different organization. Months earlier, the Cardinals had acquired Martinez from the Royals for cash considerations -- believed in so little by the Royals and the rest of the league that he couldn't even command a player in return.

 

He's made believers of the league now.

 

Martinez hit a three-run home run in the third inning, part of a 2-for-4, four-RBI game, to lead the Cardinals past the Diamondbacks 5-3 on Saturday. The homer, off former Cy Young winner Zack Greinke, was his second of the season.

 

"He's continuing to show us that he's a legitimate force and offensive weapon," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said after Saturday's game.

 

He's needed to. Even after hitting .309/.379/.518 with 14 homers in 272 at-bats as a part-time player last year, Martinez entered camp this year without a guaranteed spot -- the Cardinals acquired Marcell Ozuna over the winter to pair with breakout star Tommy Pham and high-priced free agent from last winter Dexter Fowler, and Matt Carpenter was slated to handle most of the first base duties.

 

His early-season performance has quieted those concerns, and the Cards have found ways to get him into the lineup in every game thus far. An injury to Jedd Gyorko has allowed Carpenter to find playing time across the diamond, and Carpenter has also stolen playing time from Kolten Wong at second base to get Martinez at-bats.

 

Fantasy owners have been wise to keep Martinez in their lineups as well. The question entering the year was less about his ability and more about his playing time on a team with a lot of options.

 

This opportunity, like all before it, is hard-earned for Martinez. He doesn't plan on letting it go, either.

 

"The goal is to stay here for the whole year," Martinez said. "I hope I'm not taken out of the lineup. I just want to be out there. I just want to help the team win any way I can, like last year."

 

Wild Night Across MLB

 

Walk-off popups, 14-inning games, 20-run outbursts -- it was a crazy day for baseball Saturday.

 

Three games went into extra innings Saturday, but none was weirder than the ending to the Padres-Astros game. With the game scoreless in the 10th inning, Alex Bregman came to the plate with two outs and a runner on second.

 

Bregman skied a popup that only went a few feet in front of home plate, but the long run for first baseman Eric Hosmer actually worked in the Astros' favor when Hosmer, running hard, overran the ball and watched as it landed beyond his arched back and outstretched glove. Derek Fisher, running from second on contact, crossed home plate a split-second later, giving the Astros an unusual walk-off win.

 

Things were more traditional -- but no less exciting -- in San Francisco, where the Giants and Dodgers played 14 innings, using most of their rosters in the process. In fact, after Clayton Kershaw pinch-hit in the 14th inning, the Dodgers had used 24 of their 25 players on the active roster, with only starter Alex Wood -- who was sick and was not even at the stadium, having stayed at the team hotel, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said afterwards -- not appearing in the game in some capacity.

 

Kershaw hit for Scott Alexander after the Dodgers had taken a 5-4 lead, and Wilmer Font came on in the bottom of the inning to try to preserve the win. Instead, Kelby Tomlinson and Joe Panik singled to bring Andrew McCutchen to the plate.

 

At that point, McCutchen was 5-for-6 in the game. Disinterested in playing any longer, McCutchen's sixth hit landed a few rows into the left field bleachers, giving the Giants a 7-4 win in the marathon affair.

 

The Phillies hit more than their fair share of homers Saturday as well, bopping two grand slams en route to a 20-1 win over the Marlins. What's more, the Marlins actually scored first, before the Phillies hung 20 unanswered runs on the board. Maikel Franco led the way with one of the grand slams and six total RBI, and every Phillies batter except pitcher Jake Thompson had at least one hit in the win.

 

Last but not least, a shrimp alert was sounded in Colorado after Braves closer Arodys Vizcaino walked in the winning run in the 10th inning.

 

Quick Hits: Anthony Rizzo (back) remained out of the Cubs' starting lineup on Saturday. The Cubs still don't believe that it's a serious issue, but they gave him an extra day of rest rather than risking further aggravation. Rizzo owners should check the Cubs lineup Sunday before reinserting him into their own lineups ... Lost in the shuffle of the strange walk-off, Gerrit Cole fanned 11 batters over seven innings Saturday against the Padres. While Cole didn’t get the win, he was fantastic once again. He held the Padres to just five hits and didn’t walk a batter. He had 20 swinging strikes in his 102 pitches. Cole has allowed one run in 14 innings with a ridiculous 22/3 K/BB ratio over his first two starts with the Astros. No pitcher in franchise history has more strikeouts through their first two starts with the club ... Gregory Polanco was a late scratch from Saturday's lineup due to right foot discomfort. He fouled a ball off the foot in Friday's game, but he didn't leave the game or show any signs of it. The hope is that it's a day to day issue and he'll be back in there Sunday, or in the next few days ... Athletics recalled SS Franklin Barreto from Triple-A Nashville. Barreto will take the roster spot of Chad Pinder, who hit the disabled list with a hyperextended left knee. The top prospect can play all over the infield and should be up to play, not sit on the bench. His 2017 wasn't much to write home about, but he's a better offensive player than that and could be worth a fantasy roster spot if he hits the ground running in Oakland ... Bryce Harper went 1-for-3 with a solo home run in Saturday's 3-2 loss to the Mets. The game was tied at 1-1 when Harper stepped to the plate to lead off the sixth inning against Hansel Robles. He then proceeded to crack his fifth homer of the young season. Alas for the Nationals, Harper's typical brilliance did not result in a win, as the Mets would come pushing back to take the lead for good in the seventh inning. Harper's five home runs are tops in the majors and overall, the all-universe outfielder is off to a rip-roaring start to the season ... Yankees placed LHP CC Sabathia on the 10-day disabled list with a right hip strain. Sabathia sustained the injury during Friday's start against the Orioles. The silver lining, is that an MRI revealed no structural damage, so he shouldn't be looking at a lengthy absence. It's unclear at the moment how the Yankees plan to fill his vacancy in the starting rotation ... Eugenio Suarez knocked in five runs, including a go-ahead three run homer in the eighth inning as the Reds topped the Pirates 7-4 on Saturday. Suarez tied things up with a two-run single in the sixth inning before putting the Reds ahead with his blast off George Kontos in the eighth. The five RBI tied his career-high ... Trevor Bauer allowed just one run on three hits over eight innings in Saturday's 1-0 loss to the Royals. In a beautifully-pitched contest by Bauer and opposing starter Ian Kennedy, it would be Bauer who came up just short. His moment of undoing came in the form of Lucas Duda, who provided the only run of the game with a solo home run leading off the seventh inning. That would be it -- one of just three hits the right-hander allowed on the afternoon -- and that would be enough to saddle Bauer with the tough loss. He finished his eight innings of work striking out seven and walking two. In two starts covering 13 innings, Bauer has now allowed a mere three runs ... Xander Bogaerts blasted a grand slam and drove in six runs on Saturday, pacing the Red Sox offense in a 10-3 thrashing of the Rays. Bogaerts drilled a two-run double as part of a four-run uprising off of Jacob Faria in the first inning. He then put the game out of reach with a grand slam in the second inning that increased the Red Sox' early advantage to 8-2. He also drew a walk in the game for good measure, finishing the afternoon 2-for-3. He's off to a blistering start, slashing .371/.405/.743 with two homers and nine RBI ... Lonnie Chisenhall left Saturday's game with a right calf injury. It's unclear when he sustained it, but Rajai Davis pinch-hit for Chisenhall in the second inning. He was sent for tests after the game, and the team hopes to know more Sunday. A DL stint seems likely.



Nathan Grimm is a baseball writer for Rotoworld. He can also be found on Twitter (@Nate_Grimm).
Email :Nathan Grimm



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