ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals fielded many calls over the last few years from teams interested in their young pitching talent -- in particular Shelby Miller and Carlos Martinez -- before ultimately deciding last November that they'd be willing to part with Miller in a trade that helped the club fill other holes.
Though his record with the Braves is not indicative of it, Miller has shined since his departure, and he reminded the Cardinals the talent they lost while dominating over most of his 7 1/3-inning start in St. Louis' 1-0 win over Atlanta on Saturday night. Martinez, all the while, had been equally as good, leaving the Cards no room for regret about their decision to hang onto him instead.
Martinez threw a career-high eight innings to help the Cardinals beat his former teammate, whose departure actually opened the door for Martinez to slide into the rotation this season. Martinez became the league's fourth 11-game winner and rolled off an 11th straight quality start, something no Cardinals pitcher has done since Chris Carpenter in 2010.
Both Martinez and manager Mike Matheny described it afterward as the best performance of the righty's young career.
"Just a phenomenal start from him," said Matheny, who had specific praise for Martinez's use of his sinker.
That sinker helped Martinez induce three double plays, all of which came after he allowed a single to lead off an inning. Quick contact was also behind Martinez's efficiency. He finished with a pitch count of 93 and may have had an opportunity at the team's first nine-inning complete game of the season had the Cardinals not been locked in a one-run game.
"I felt really good," Martinez said, speaking through a translator. "I felt like my sinker was nasty today with power and down in the zone. Tonight was a fun night to compete against Shelby."
It was the fifth outing this season in which Martinez pitched at least seven innings without allowing a run. In this one, he allowed just two runners into scoring position, both in the second. Martinez closed that inning with a strikeout of Miller.
Martinez showcased the benefit of extra rest, too, as this marked his first start since July 9. Over the previous 15 days, his only other appearance had come in an emergency when the Cardinals needed him in relief during last Sunday's 18-inning game.