Martin, young arms show potential in Phils' win
Rookie gives up two runs in 6 1/3; De Fratus, Diekman solid in relief
By Todd Zolecki / 8/19/2013 11:57 PM ET
PHILADELPHIA -- These are the progressions the Phillies want to see in the final few weeks of the season.
Phillies rookie Ethan Martin has shown potential throughout his Minor League career, and he joined the rotation recently when Jonathan Pettibone landed on the disabled list. Martin showed flashes of brilliance in his first three starts, typically early in every game, before struggling toward the end. But in Monday's 5-4 victory over the Rockies at Citizens Bank Park, the hard-throwing right-hander started strong and kept the pace through six innings as the Phillies won two consecutive games for the first time since a three-game winning streak last month.
Relievers Justin De Fratus and Jake Diekman also came up big in the victory, each stranding a pair or runners in the seventh and eighth innings, respectively.
Martin, De Fratus and Diekman each hope to be part of this team's future. Each took a step forward Monday.
"Put them in opportunities like tonight, and let them learn from that," Phillies interim manager Ryne Sandberg said. "Hopefully, do well and be ready for it. Put them in those situations, and when they go in there and pitch like they did tonight, it's a huge confidence boost for them."
In Martin's first time through the lineup in his first three starts this season, opponents hit just .200 (5-for-25) against him with one walk, nine strikeouts and one extra-base hit. But the rest of the way, opponents hit .361 (13-for-36) with seven walks, seven strikeouts and seven extra-base hits.
But he handled the Rockies nicely Monday, pitching further than he had before. He struck out five of the first seven batters he faced, and the Rockies were just 2-for-18 with five strikeouts their first two times through the lineup. Those hits included a two-out single by Troy Tulowitzki in the first and a two-out single by Michael Cuddyer in the fourth.
The Rockies finally got to Martin the third time they saw him. Tulowitzki hit a leadoff homer in the seventh, and Cuddyer worked a walk. Todd Helton then hit a one-out ground-rule double to score Cuddyer to make it 5-2. Martin walked Nolan Arenado before Sandberg removed him from the game for De Fratus.
De Fratus worked out of the jam, helping to close out Martin's solid line -- four hits, two runs, two walks and six strikeouts in 6 1/3 innings. On July 19, De Fratus had a 5.66 ERA through 30 appearances. He has a 0.73 ERA in 13 appearances since, allowing 11 hits, one earned run, three walks and striking out 12 in 12 1/3 innings.
"I think if you take a look at the last couple weeks, that things have started to get better for both of us," De Fratus said of himself and Diekman. "I don't know if we're any more comfortable, but definitely more confident in our stuff to go out there and just really challenge hitters. Just attack them and hope for the best, and tonight, it worked out."
Right-hander Luis Garcia loaded the bases and allowed two runs to score with one out in the eighth to make it a one-run game. But Diekman struck out Helton on three pitches and struck out Arenado on a 99-mph fastball to end the inning.
Diekman balked the runners to second and third in the at-bat with Arenado, when the batter tried to call time and stepped out of the box. But home-plate umpire Jim Joyce never called time, so when Diekman stopped his motion to the plate, he knew he was in trouble.
Diekman finished the at-bat with a pair of 99-mph fastballs.
"I was a little [upset], you could say," Diekman said.
"If he was ever going to hit 100, it might have been after that," De Fratus said.
The Phillies gave Martin some support in the fourth inning when they took a 4-0 lead with help from John Mayberry Jr.'s three-run home run to left field. Carlos Ruiz hit a solo homer to left in the fifth to make it 5-0.
But this was a night for Martin, De Fratus and Diekman to show something to the coaching staff and front office watching from above. They did just that.