8/29/2013 12:29 A.M. ET
Siegrist striking out batters at historic August rate
By Jenifer Langosch and Chad Thornburg / MLB.com
ST. LOUIS -- Already distinguished as the only player signed as a 41st-round pick of the First-Year Player Draft to reach the Majors with the Cardinals, Kevin Siegrist is putting himself in other rare franchise company.
After striking out the side Tuesday, the 2008 Draft pick has now thrown 13 1/3 scoreless innings in August, totaling 20 strikeouts during the month. His rate of 13.5 strikeouts per nine innings this month is the highest ever for a Cardinals pitcher with at least 13 appearances in August.
This month-long dominance comes after Siegrist set a franchise record by opening his career with 12 consecutive scoreless appearances from June 6 to July 9.
"I have a lot of confidence this year, no matter who I face," said Siegrist, who began the year in Double-A. "I try not to really think about who's in the batter's box. I try to attack the strike zone, get outs that way."
Siegrist continues to pitch off his fastball, though the velocity on it (an average of 95 mph this season) is higher than hitters see from most lefties. He has pitched himself into a high-leverage role, too, with his ability to be nearly as effective against right-handers as he is left-handers.
Entering Wednesday, left-handed batters have hit Siegrist at a .087 clip. Right-handers have a .111 average. His. 0.64 ERA is the lowest among all Major League relievers with at least 25 innings pitched.
"We continue to give him new obstacles and put him in different situations and put him in different spots," manager Mike Matheny said. "He continues to answer them. He's done a real nice job. You still see a little bit of his youth, but fortunately, he has a catcher that goes out and helps get him refocused and gets him back on track. Once he gets on track, he's pretty impressive."
Cards option Martinez to stretch out in case of start
ST. LOUIS -- Wanting to ensure that Carlos Martinez stays stretched out in case he is needed for a start, the Cardinals optioned the 21-year-old to Triple-A on Wednesday with the intent of having him start for Memphis one day later.
By pitching Thursday, Martinez will remain an option when the Cardinals look to fill a vacant rotation spot Tuesday. Tyler Lyons, who was optioned to the Minors on Tuesday, is the other candidate to rejoin the Cardinals' rotation. Manager Mike Matheny said Lyons will pitch a couple of innings in Memphis so he can be ready next week, if needed.
The Cardinals can get by without a fifth starter until Tuesday because of Thursday's off-day. That allows Joe Kelly to come back on normal rest to face the Pirates on Sunday and lines Adam Wainwright up to open a series in Cincinnati on Monday.
Matheny would not confirm those rotation plans, but when asked about other alternatives, he had none to offer.
"We most likely will stay on track," Matheny said, "but [have] not firmed [up] anything."
Both Martinez and Lyons will be eligible to return to the Majors on Tuesday, because that is the first day after the end of the Triple-A season, which precludes the pitchers from having to stay in the Minors for the typically required minimum of 10 days.
Martinez last pitched in relief of Lyons on Monday, going two innings and earning his first Major League win. They recalled reliever Michael Blazek in his place.
Prospect Blazek returns to St. Louis bullpen
ST. LOUIS -- The Cardinals added another fresh arm to their bullpen Wednesday, recalling right-hander Michael Blazek to fill the roster spot vacated by Carlos Martinez.
Blazek, the Cardinals' fifth-ranked prospect on MLB.com, saw immediate action, entering in the seventh inning of a 10-0 loss to the Reds and throwing 1 2/3 innings blemished by only a walk. He has pitched in 11 games for St. Louis this year, striking out 10 batters in 10 1/3 innings. With Triple-A Memphis, Blazek was 1-2 with a 2.77 ERA and two saves in 19 games (26 innings).
Before the callup, Blazek last pitched for the Cardinals on Aug. 10, allowing one earned run on two hits and a walk in the ninth inning of a 6-5 loss to the Cubs. The righty has primarily appeared in low-leverage situations, pitching in mostly lopsided wins and losses.
"I'm just ready to get in there and just do [well] and help as much as I can," Blazek said before the game. "I'll just kind of go with the flow, and whenever they call me, I'll go out there and do my best."
Kozma gets first taste of outfield since Rookie ball
ST. LOUIS -- On an unusual night for the Cardinals, Pete Kozma found himself in a particularly unusual territory.
With the game all but over, manager Mike Matheny cleared his bench in the sixth inning of Wednesday's 10-0 loss to the Reds, inserting Kolten Wong, Matt Adams, Shane Robinson and Kozma into the lineup for starters Matt Carpenter, Allen Craig, Carlos Beltran and Matt Holliday. Kozma -- who started just two of the seven games in this homestand, losing much of his playing time at shortstop to Daniel Descalso -- replaced Holliday in left field.
"It's just going out there and giving those guys rest," Kozma said. "I was just filling in."
Kozma saw two balls hit his way in left, catching a routine fly ball from pinch-hitter Jack Hannahan in the seventh and another from Xavier Paul for the first out of the ninth.
The only other time Kozma played the outfield in his professional career was in 2007 with the Gulf Coast League Cardinals, just months after the Cardinals made him the No. 18 pick in the First-Year Player Draft.
"It was a long time ago," Kozma said. "It's just catching fly balls. Hit the cut-off man and catch the fly ball. Just don't mess up."
• After catching the team's last five games, catcher Yadier Molina was on the bench for Wednesday's series finale against the Reds. Molina, who has been bothered by right knee trouble, will get two consecutive days off since the team is idle on Thursday. Asked why Molina was out of the lineup, Matheny said the catcher "needed a day."
• The Pirates have announced that they will start Francisco Liriano (14-6, 2.74 ERA) against the Cardinals on Friday and A.J. Burnett (6-9, 3.18 ERA) on Saturday. Sunday's starter, however, remained undetermined after Pittsburgh optioned lefty Jeff Locke.
• Double-A Springfield third baseman Ruben Gotay and outfielder Mike O'Neill have been named to the Texas League Postseason All-Star Team. Gotay, 30, is batting .277 with 16 homers, 86 RBI, 73 runs scored and 30 doubles in 127 games this year. O'Neill, 25, boasted a .320 average with 66 runs scored and 35 RBIs in 98 games before he was promoted to Triple-A on July 31.
• With an 8-2 win against New Orleans on Tuesday, Triple-A Memphis pulled within one game of division-leading Omaha. Memphis has six games remaining on its schedule as it tries to secure a spot in the Pacific Coast League playoffs. Outfielder Jamie Romak had four hits, including a homer, and four RBIs in Tuesday's win.
Jenifer Langosch is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, By Gosh, It's Langosch, and follow her on Twitter @LangoschMLB. Chad Thornburg is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.