11 August 2009

Pressing the Advantage

Virtual unknown Joe Martinez starts tonight for the Giants. The Dodgers counter with the usually solid Randy Wolf. The Dodgers appear to have the advantage, as much as they can have an advantage in any game in San Francisco.

I think of Joe Martinez as the Giant's version of Eric Stults. It's not an exact match, but close enough. Both made their major league debuts in their age 26 season. Both had good minor league numbers prior to the first call up, but neither could be considered anything more than a fringe prospect. Martinez's minor league numbers are a little better through the age 26 season but he hasn't logged the kind of innings in the PCL that Stults did. I guess what I'm saying is that more likely than not the Dodgers should be able to hit Martinez. He might produce a complete game shutout out of nowhere but more likely he won't go more than five innings.

It's hard to say because Martinez really has no major league track record yet. Tonight will be only Martinez's second big league start and fourth major league game, even though he made the Giants out of spring training. Martinez picked up the win opening day in relief of an ineffective Tim Lincecum, then two days later his skull was fractured by a Mike Cameron line drive. After several months of recovery and about a month in AAA, Martinez made it back up to the Giants six days ago, this time as a starter, and he got the win in his first ever major league start, with three runs allowed in --- five innings --- against Houston.

Martinez is the kind of pitcher I'd root for if he wasn't a Giant. But he is a Giant, and he should be vulnerable, and getting a win tonight is even more vital because the Dodgers face a game tomorrow that pits ace Tim Lincecum against the great unknown --- maybe Weaver, maybe McDonald, maybe Elbert? --- anyone but Billingsley, anyway, who can't go with a strained hammy. I guess it's not a disaster if the Dodgers lose the final two games of the series, but it's an opportunity wasted. Time to show the Giants who is still boss of the NL West.

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