On what was a hot, sticky Saturday evening, the Scrappers were able to pick up an opening series win against the Connecticut Tigers, winning 5-3.
Indians 2012 tenth round pick Josh Martin took the bump to make his first professional start. Before Saturday, he had worked exclusively out of the bullpen with good results, pitching 10.1 innings with a 2.61 ERA and 13 strikeouts. Martin was called on to spot start in place of Robbie Aviles, who was away from the team addressing family issues.
Martin was solid in his first start, making it through five innings, allowing only five hits and striking out three. His only mistake came in the third inning when with a pair on base, Danry Vasquez drove a ball that cleared the wall in right-center just in front of the scoreboard.
Minus that homerun, Martin had good command, as he was able to keep his pitch count low and didn’t walk a batter.
“I didn’t really feel the greatest, I had some first game type of jitters,” said Martin. “When I came out of the bullpen I was trying to keep that starter mentality. The starting role is where I was in college, though, so for me it’s more just getting back to normal.”
“He’s good, I like what he does,” said manager Ted Kubiak of his starter. “He’s got a good arm. He even made a good pitch he made to [Vasquez], the ball was down, the kid just hit it.“
Offensively, the Scrappers were able to give Martin the early lead, picking up a run in the first when Joe Wendle knocked in Aaron Siliga following a one out triple. They extended their lead in the second on a two RBI single from Jairo Kelly thatscored Marcus Bradley and Jairo Valerio.
The early runs have been a recurring theme for the Scrappers. Entering today, they had scored 83 total runs on the season, with 31 coming in the first two innings.
“We try really hard to get it early and often,” commented Aaron Siliga, who scored two runs and fell just a homerun shy of a cycle. “We’re trying to work as a team to get it started from the first inning. The last couple games we’ve been doing really good at that.”
Joining Siliga with three hits was centerfielder Bradley, who went 3-3 with a walk and a run scored.
Martin exited after the fifth with a 3-3 tie, but the offense ensured that he wouldn’t take a no decision in his first start. Siliga started the inning with a double, and scored when Charlie Valerio fisted a ball that found grass in shallow centerfield. Then, with the bases loaded, first baseman Juaner Aguasvivas made a costly error, misplaying a throw that should have ended the inning. Instead, the Scrappers picked up another run and went up 5-3, putting Martin in line for his first win as a starter.
Then, the game was turned over Jacob Lee, and a bullpen that has been very good. Lee entered the day the team leader in strikeouts and fourth in ERA, with 15 and 0.96 respectively in his 9.1 innings of work. He was dominant again, pitching three innings and striking out three more without allowing a run, and lowering his ERA to 0.73 in the process.
Louis Head was called on to finish the contest out in the ninth. Head had been equally asfantastic as Lee, entering play with a 0.90 ERA in ten innings. He pitched a perfect ninth inning to close out the game and earn his second save of the season.
“The arms out of the bullpen are good. Head and Lee were good tonight, and Martin was basically a bullpen guy,” said Kubiak. “It’s been impressive, our pitching has definitely been a big help now that our hitting has come around.”
Martin was credited with the win, his second of the season. Taking the loss in the contest was Tiger Starter Edgar De La Rosa. With his three innings of work, Jacob Lee was able to pick up his first hold of the season. The Scrappers and Tigers will do battle again tomorrow afternoon, with an early 5:05 start at Eastwood Field.