A rare morning start (11 a.m.) in Lake Elsinore brought a quick moving game to get out of the midday heat. In a game that lasted just over two hours, Javier Martinez performed better than he has in two years, cruising through the seventh for the first time since July 22, 2003.
Javier Martinez was on target most of the day, limiting his pitch count and hitting his spots. He went a season high seven innings, allowing four hits and a walk while striking out six. For the first time this year, Martinez did not allow a run – and he also broke his consecutive homer streak allowed at eight games in the process.
“I stayed ahead in the count and threw strikes I started using my new pitch – a slurveball,” explained Martinez. “I was trying to put the ball low (in the zone.”
Asked when he used it previously, Martinez said he introduced it “today. I told Andres (Pagan) to be ready because I never threw that before.”
Martinez went on to say that he had never – ever – thrown it prior to the game on Tuesday.
“The curveball is bothering my hand right now. I have tendonitis. (Throwing the slurve) doesn’t hurt at all.”
Renteria could not comment on the introduction of a new pitch. He mentioned that Martinez might have thought he was throwing a new pitch based on its effectiveness.
Only two runners reached scoring position against Martinez.
A leadoff double in the fifth by Drew Macias put Lake Elsinore on the way to the first runs of the game. Andres Pagan laid down a sacrifice bunt to push him up to third and with the infield in, Juan Ciriaco hit a grounder to the shortstop who short hopped the plate, scoring the run. Ciriaco moved to second as the ball bounced to the backstop. A routine fly ball to centerfield was dropped and a ground out RBI by Brian Burgamy put the Storm up 2-0.
“(Martinez) worked the curve in early and leaned on his fastball later in the game,” manager Rick Renteria said. “I wish he would have went to the fastball earlier.”
Lancaster got one back in the eighth inning off Paul Abraham. Steve Baker issued a throwing error after a double, allowing the runner to reach third. The unearned run came around on a sacrifice fly.
After blowing two straight save opportunities against Lancaster this past weekend, Leo Rosales was brought on in the ninth inning to close it out.
After two balls to open the inning, pitching coach Dave Rajisch visited the mound to talk to his closer. The pitching coach told him his grip on the ball wasn’t how it should be, yet Rosales still walked the first batter. A sacrifice bunt pushed the runner to second base with one out. Rosales struck out the next batter and induced a ground out to second to notch his 6th save of the year.
“It was important to get back out there, especially against this team,” Rosales said. “They have some hitters. I was working from behind in the count (this past weekend) and had my changeup working today.”
“It was important to get those two back out there,” Renteria said of his setup man and closer. “Put the chips back in.”
Wilmer Villatoro was promoted to Mobile after the conclusion of the game. It was unclear who would replace him from the Fort Wayne roster.
Tye Waller, the Padres’ Director of Player Development, was in Lake Elsinore and admitted the team had interest in bringing back Brian Sweeney to Portland. The move would put Mike Bumstead back in the bullpen.
Waller also mentioned someone may have to be released from the Portland squad but he did not issue a name of the candidate.