Martinez looks to start the Cardinals off right against the Diamondbacks
PHOENIX — The Arizona Diamondbacks, heading into a series against the St. Louis Cardinals that starts Tuesday, are in a stretch in which they can do no wrong.
Major League RBI leader Paul Goldschmidt was given the day off — the first game he has missed all season — as was new leadoff hitter Gregor Blanco, who has taken over that spot with nominal No. 1 A.J. Pollock on the disabled list.
Utility man Daniel Descalso, who won the Sunday game with an 11th-inning single, drove in three runs with a pair of singles while playing first base for Goldschmidt in a 6-1 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies.
Reserve catcher/outfielder Chris Herrmann, batting leadoff for the first time in his career, hit the sixth pitch he saw for this career-high seventh homer in the first inning to start the D-backs (49-28) toward their 15th victory in 18 games.
“I know you are supposed to see a lot of pitches, so I did that part,” said Herrmann, who also drew two walks, one with the bases loaded. “It was pretty cool. Probably one of my favorite home runs I’ve ever hit, because I’m not a leadoff hitter.”
St. Louis (35-40) will attempt to stall Arizona’s roll when Carlos Martinez faces Taijuan Walker as the teams meet in the opener of a three-game series Tuesday at Chase Field.
Randal Grichuk, who was recalled from Triple-A Memphis on Sunday, homered for the second time in as many games Monday in the Cardinals’ 8-2 victory over the Cincinnati Reds. He had five homers in his last six games with Memphis before being recalled.
“More so what I was working on was not thinking about things,” Grichuk said. “Not thinking about my swing. Not thinking about what pitch is coming. Not thinking about who is throwing it.
“I think power is my game. But moving forward, it is not a one-dimensional hitter.”
The Cardinals are 13-21 in their stretch of 47 games in 48 days leading up to the All-Star break.
Arizona is 29-10 at home, the second-best home record in the majors, trailing only the Dodgers.
Walker is 6-3 with a 3.43 ERA in 11 starts, having missed four turns through the rotation with a pesky blister on the middle finger of his right hand. Since returning, he won at Detroit and at Colorado. He gave up three runs and struck out eight in six innings of a 16-5 victory against the Rockies last Wednesday.
“The finger issue is behind him,” said Arizona manager Torey Lovullo, who saw a lot to like in Walker’s outing in Colorado.
“It was an aggressive fastball, up-down fastball. The secondary stuff, the slider seemed to be a very effective pitch. It was late and short. He’s throwing a curveball and a changeup, and I know those pitches were hard for him to throw with the finger (injury). With that healing, he is able to work through all his pitches.”
Walker will be pitching on five days’ rest, an accommodation that was given to every member of the rotation when Randall Delgado made a spot start on Sunday.
“We are looking for moments to give guys breaks and … the ability to recover,” Lovullo said. “It is a long season, and we want to make sure in August and September, these games are going to be very meaningful in our anticipation, that they are ready to go.”
Martinez is 6-6 with a 2.87 ERA in 15 starts. He has 11 quality starts, including 10 in his past 11 appearances, and is tied for fourth in the league in that category. He has given up three earned runs in his past 21 innings, including a four-hit shutout against Philadelphia on June 10. He is third in the NL in ERA behind Max Scherzer and Clayton Kershaw and is seventh with 111 strikeouts.
Martinez is 2-1 with a 2.86 ERA in seven appearances, four starts, against Arizona, splitting two starts against the D-backs last season. He is among the small subset of pitchers who have had success at Chase Field, going 2-0 with a 1.76 ERA. He tossed eight scoreless innings in an 8-2 victory at Arizona on April 26, 2016. He is 2-5 with a 4.29 ERA in seven road starts this season.