Former Fordham Ram Martinez returned to the pitching mound in the Bronx

By Rich Mancuso

Three years ago Nick Martinez was spending time as a second baseman and came out of the bullpen up at Rose Hill for Fordham University. Then the Texas Rangers gave him a call as their 18th round pick in the June amateur draft. Tuesday night he was on the mound at Yankee Stadium getting the start for the Texas Rangers.

It was a homecoming of sorts. The 23-year old right-hander from Hialeah Florida visited the new Yankee Stadium in his senior year at Fordham. Scouts said he could fit in the plans for the Rangers, and at the time the organization was loaded with good pitching.

So, a little past 7:20pm, and three years after coming out of the pen up at Rose Hill, Martinez threw his first pitch as a professional in the Bronx. It was low sinker and outside to Brett Gardner that went for a single to left.  Derek Jeter followed hitting into a ground ball double-play and Jacoby Ellsbury lashed a 92-mile fastball to left for a single.

Then the curveball was thrown, one that helped Martinez get to this point, and Carlos Beltran ended the inning with a force that went second to short. After that hit to Ellsbury, Martinez retired 12 consecutive Yankees, and that was impressive being this was his first start coming off the 15-day disabled list because of discomfort on his left side.

“Going out and sat on the bench a little bit it just sank it in,” Martinez said, hours after he was lifted from a game that almost lasted five hours and went 14-innings in a game the Yankees won 2-1.

Martinez, 1-6, with a 5.10 ERA, held the Yankees for 5 1/3 innings on three hits and a walk. Manager Ron Washington made the pitching change after a walk to Gardner and after throwing 68 pitches, and of course he did not fair in the decision.

“His mechanics started to break down,” was the explanation from Washington about removing Martinez with a low pitch count. But, there was more of a concern that his pitcher did not further aggravate his left side.

 Martinez has a future and was a reason the Rangers grabbed him after a successful scholastic and playing career at Fordham. He had allowed 10 earned runs in his previous 7 1/3 innings over two starts and retired 14 of the last 16 Yankees he faced in the game.

It resulted in his first career start without allowing an earned run, and the first by a Texas pitcher this season not allowing an earned run since Yu Darvich against the Twins on June 28th.   

He said, “I thought my fastball was elevated a bit. I got away with that….things to expect first time out in three weeks. I understand. I did have to tighten up and focus. I didn’t feel tired and exhausted. Again, I haven’t pitched in three weeks so you have to play it safe.”

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