Just one month into his 22nd year on Earth, right-handed pitcher Carlos Martinez played a crucial bridge role for the St. Louis Cardinals in their Game 2 World Series win Thursday night in Boston.
Featuring his upper 90’s heat and a wicked curve, Martinez not only pitched his customary eighth inning ahead of closer Trevor Rosenthal, he also recorded the three outs in the seventh. The two-inning stint followed six strong frames by starter Michael Wacha.
Martinez fanned three, induced three ground balls and allowed just one hit. 19 of his 24 pitches went for strikes.
The Dominican native is called “Baby Pedro” by some due to his resemblance to fellow countryman and future Red Sox Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez.
The Sox already knew about Carlos – all too well. In early 2009, then going by the name Carlos Matias, the 17-year-old agreed in principle to a deal with Boston which would have netted him a $160,000 bonus. That contract was voided and Matias was suspended for a year after irregularities in the pitcher’s family background were uncovered.
Reported first by The Cardinal Nation, in April 2010, St. Louis signed Matias/Martinez to a contract that included a $1.5 million bonus that was paid once his testing and background checks were successfully completed.
Martinez later told me about the identity confusion. “I live with my grandfather and uncle,” he explained. “I never knew my father and my mother is dead.” The adoptive uncle’s surname is Matias, a name Carlos had assumed as his own.
With their big Game 2 win, Martinez’ Cardinals are very much alive in the World Series over his once proposed but shunned baseball home in Boston.