Ethan Martin's first handful of starts have been neither outstanding nor appalling. Tonight, he made a major step forward after collecting the second win of his major league career.
After having the win practically handed to them on Sunday against the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Phillies weren't exactly on any sort of roll heading into their home series against the Colorado Rockies. However, it was the first of the Ryne Sandberg era in Philly, a positive note for the entire team. They would face Jeff Manship in just his third start of the season. For the first three frames, he was able to keep the offense relatively quiet. The same could be said for Ethan Martin.
It took until the fourth inning for either team to score. Chase Utley began the home half of that inning with a single into right. Domonic Brown followed with a base hit of his own, and a walk to Darin Ruf would load the bases for Cody Asche. Asche would roll over a ground ball that turned into a fielder's choice, outing Ruf at second but allowing Utley to score. With runners now on the corners, John Mayberry Jr. sent a ball into the seats in left field. The three-run homerun moved the Phillies lead to 4-0 early on. Carlos Ruiz would follow up in the next inning with solo shot, his third dinger of the year. 5-0 Philly lead.
In the seventh inning, Martin began to grow tired and extend his pitch count. Troy Tulowitzki would blast a solo homerun to lead off the inning and end the shutout bid. Michael Cuddyer would then receive a free pass, followed by a stolen base. Meanwhile, a Todd Helton ground-rule double brought the second run home with only one away. Martin's night was over after 6.1 solid innings, and Justin De Fratus came in to keep the scoring at a minimum.
The next inning would also bring home some Rockies players. With Luis Garcia pitching, the first three batters, Dexter Fowler, Chris Dickerson, and Tulo, would all reach base. Garcia was able to strike out Cuddyer with the bases loaded and nobody out, but Willim Rosario put the ball back up the middle to score two. The 5-4 score would remain intact when Jake Diekman struck out the next two Rockies.
Jonathan Papelbon would be called upon to close the game out. Despite a leadoff single, Cinco Ocho finished it off and secured Ryne Sandberg's second managerial victory. Believe it or not, it was the first consecutive win for the Phillies in over a month, a real sign of the team's recent struggles. From this game, the team can hang their hat on Ethan Martin's impressive performance through just over six innings. If Martin does become a bullpen pitcher as is speculated, he will be a pretty good one. Tomorrow night, another young Phillie will take the bump. Right-hander Tyler Cloyd will be recalled to make the start in Game Two. Jorge De La Rosa will be standing in the way of a third straight win in 7:05 action.