The Staten Island Yankees (4-8) were able to avoid being swept by the Tri-City Valleycats on Tuesday night (7-5) as they picked up a 2-0 win. Eight of the nine batters in the lineup reached base and Staten Island got a good performance on the mound from the right-handed starter, Nolan Martinez (1-0).
In his second start with Staten Island, Martinez went six innings, gave up no runs on four hits, struck out a batter, and walked two on 87 pitches (48 strikes). While he did not have a high strikeout total and his fastball was between 88 and 90 miles-per-hour, he did a good job neutralizing a lineup that had scored ten runs in the previous two games.
“He attacked and threw strikes with his fastball and was able to throw the breaking ball over. He was in control. Some of the better hitters, he had them the whole day. That’s a great improvement,” Diaz said about Martinez’s outing.
For Martinez, the key for him was getting the ball down in the zone as the night progressed:
“The first couple of innings, I wasn’t throwing that well with the location of my pitches. The transition from the first couple of innings to the last innings, I made an adjustment trying to get the ball down and get people out,” said Martinez about his outing.
Martinez ran into some trouble in the early innings, but he found a way out of each jam. In the top of the second, Tri-City loaded the bases with one out, but they came up empty as the right-hander got Oscar Campos to hit into an inning-ending 4-4-3 double play.
“When he was in trouble, he pitched to contact and the defense did a really good job,” replied Diaz. “He was good; he was aggressive today.”
One inning later, Martinez put both runners on-base via walks. With men on first and second and two outs, he got Jeremy Pena to ground out to second as he escaped another jam. Once Martinez got out of those situations, he was able to settle into his outing.
The game remained scoreless until the bottom of the fourth when the Yankees offense put up the lone runs of the game. Canaan Smith started the inning by drawing a seven-pitch walk. Three batters later, Frederick Cuevas hit a double into the gap in right-center to put Staten Island ahead, 1-0. Cuevas went 2-for-4 and picked up his third RBI of the season.
Then, Jack Thoreson got the chance to make an excellent first impression. He singled up the middle to double the lead to 2-0. Thoreson went 1-for-3 in his first game, and Diaz had good things to say about the 26th Round Pick in this year’s draft out of St. Mary’s:
“There was a lot I liked. I liked his swing. He’s very direct to the ball. I think he’s probably saying to himself right now I wish would have hit some of those fastballs early. But, he was able to put the bat on some of those balls. I was very happy for him. I think he will be a guy that will help us with his bat.”
After Martinez left the game, Reiver Sanmartin pitched the final three innings and was fooling the Tri-City offense. He ran into some trouble in the top of the ninth as Tri-City had runners on second and third with one out due to singles by Pena and Trey Dawson (throwing error by Smith).
However, Sanmartin got out of trouble by striking out Jose Carrillo swinging and getting Campos to fly out to right to end the game as he picked up his first save.
Sanmartin allowed four hits and struck out six on 34 pitches (28 strikes). At one point, he had four consecutive strikeouts. He has 13 strikeouts in the first two games and has yet to allow a run in 7.1 innings.
Star Of The Game
Nolan Martinez became the second Staten Island Yankees starter in this series against Tri-City to throw six shutout innings (Roansy Contreras on Sunday). He gave up one hit over the final four innings and got out of key jams in the second and third. Despite only getting one strikeout, he did a good job pitching to contact.
For the Third Round pick back in 2016, it was a positive step in the right direction and both he and his pitching coach, Travis Phelps, brought up confidence as the biggest improvement from his first start in Lowell:
“I think that’s a huge improvement for him, said Phelps about Martinez’s confidence level. “I think what he went out and did today with the stuff he had is a huge confidence builder for him to believe that he can pitch against anyone even when he doesn’t have his good stuff.”
“I had more confidence,” said Martinez. “I got the first game away and now the second game, I had more feel.”
The Staten Island Yankees will be on the road for the next four games. Their trip starts in Connecticut on Thursday when they face the Connecticut Tigers (2-10). First pitch is at 7:05 p.m ET. Harold Cortijo (0-0, 3.86 ERA) will take the ball for the Baby Bombers. In his first start on June 18 against Lowell, he went 4.2 innings, gave up three runs (two earned) on four hits, struck out five, and walked four in a no-decision.
Diaz told the media after the game that right-hander Frank German, the Yankees’ Fourth Round pick in this year’s draft out of North Florida, will make his New-York Penn-League debut after Cortijo.