For a guy who described himself as off-and-on, Cody Martin sure looked on Saturday.
The Braves' No. 10 prospect allowed one hit over five scoreless innings and recorded a season-high 10 strikeouts, pitching Triple-A Gwinnett to a 10-4 triumph at Toledo.
Martin (2-1) struggled with his command, throwing 57 of 100 pitches for strikes. He walked the bases loaded in the second inning before fanning the next three batters. The 24-year-old right-hander ended up issuing four walks and also hit a batter.
"I didn't really do anything special," Martin said. "I was just trying to command my fastball to both sides of the plate. I just kind of think I confused some people with some sequences and got guys looking the first time around, and once I got deeper into the game, I mixed the slider and curveball in more. Once I was able to mix those in for strikes and use them as a putaway pitch as well, good things happened."
The high pitch count led to an early exit for Martin, who worked 5 2/3 and six innings in his previous two starts.
"My main goal isn't to strike guys out, it's to go as deep into the game as possible. Get contact early in the count," he said, "I felt like I should have gone a lot deeper into this game. I'm actually kind of upset that I only went five because my command went away at times. My command was off-and-on -- when it was on, I was punching guys out and when it was off, I was walking guys.
"So my pitch count rose because I wasn't being efficient with certain people. I think I was right around 50 percent with balls and strikes. When I'm looking at this outing I want to make sure that I throw a lot more strikes my next outing and not giving out so many free passes."
One of the keys for Martin in lowering his ERA to 2.66 was his ability to be smart with his breaking pitches on two-strike counts.
"Once I got two strikes, I didn't hang any curveballs or sliders," he said. "If you get two strikes early in the count, 1-2 or 2-2, you don't want to throw a hittable strike. But once you get deeper into a count, you gotta throw some strikes. I think really just throwing the ball for strikes and commanding all four pitches is the key to any outing."
Martin leads the International League with 33 strikeouts and ranks fourth among starting pitchers with a .173 batting average against.
Four relievers finished up for Gwinnett, which ended a two-game slide.
Tommy La Stella, the Braves' seventh-ranked prospect, singled twice and drove in three runs, while Joey Terdoslavich chipped in three hits and two RBIs and stole home.
Mike Hessman plated a pair of runs for the Mud Hens.