In a highly billed pitching matchup between Martinez (MLB.com's No. 28 prospect) and Frisco's Cody Buckel (No. 95 by MLB.com), it was the Cardinals' right-hander who prevailed. The Dominican Republic native held the RoughRiders to four hits and a walk while striking out seven over seven innings in a 5-0 victory.
It was a complete 180 for St. Louis' No. 3 prospect from his first-round start against Tulsa, in which he allowed six runs on seven hits and three walks in four innings.
"That probably is [one of the best starts of the year] for Martinez," said Cardinals pitching coach Bryan Eversgerd. "He was nasty. He went out there and knew what was on the line and rose to the challenge. He wanted to get off to a good start and really competed well, executed his pitches."
That game against the Drillers was the only one this postseason in which Springfield has allowed more than four runs. In their last five contests, the Cardinals have allowed an average of two runs per game.
"Even when the starters stumble some, the bullpen has done a nice job picking up some tough innings and that seems to be kind of contagious," said Eversgerd. "The starters are really starting to get going and the staff overall ... I'm really proud of these kids and what they've been able to accomplish this postseason."
Martinez dropped his playoff ERA to 4.91 in besting Buckel, who allowed two runs on four hits without walking a batter and striking out five over six frames.
Eversgerd said the 20-year-old's effort was an ideal way to begin the Finals for Springfield.
"Early on, he was fighting command just a little bit -- getting behind, but he was able to make pitches, As the game went on, his fastball command got better and better," he noted. "He worked out of a couple little mini-jams with some ground balls and double plays and really did a nice job.
"We know Frisco's a pretty good team, they just swept Corpus Christi and they've got a good hitting team. It's not an easy task to go out there and shut those guys out. But fortunately we got off on the right foot here, and we'll be looking for some more good things."
The Cardinals' offense came on three home runs -- solo shots by Greg Garcia and Jamie Romak and Mike O'Neill's three-run homer in the seventh.
Eric Fornataro tossed a perfect eighth and Michael Blazek allowed one hit in the ninth to put the finishing touches on the shutout. Game 2 of the best-of-5 series will be played Wednesday in Springfield.