Working inside, Martinez outpitches MadBum
ARLINGTON -- Nick Martinez found his command working the inside fastball, and it helped him find the win column for the first time since June 9.
Martinez pitched 6 1/3 innings, allowing only two runs on seven hits Friday night in the Rangers' 6-3 win over the Giants. And possibly thanks to the spark that comes with pulling off a trade for Cole Hamels, the Rangers played as if they were rejuvenated across the board.
Martinez struggled early, allowing runs in each of the first two innings, but he also had the benefit of ample run support. The Rangers, led by strong days at the plate from Adrian Beltre, Elvis Andrus and Rougned Odor against Giants ace Madison Bumgarner, scored a combined six runs in the first two innings.
From there, Martinez looked like the pitcher who was the Rangers' April Player of the Month. He shut down the Giants before exiting in the seventh.
"He got back to throwing the fastball in, something that he kind of got away from his last few starts," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said.
In doing that, Martinez was able to expand on his breaking balls and be more deceptive on the outer half. Martinez said he felt good, and it was evident.
"I was able to locate [the inside fastball] for effect and for a strike today," Martinez said. "I don't throw 95 [mph], so I can't just live outside. I have to throw inside so I can keep guys on their toes on both sides of the plate."
Martinez couldn't finish the seventh inning, when a Nori Aoki ground ball squeezed through the infield, but left-hander Jake Diekman came through with an impressive relief outing in his first appearance as a Ranger. Diekman, who was acquired along with Hamels, went 1 2/3 scoreless innings, using only 18 pitches.
For Martinez, this was a needed start. He was winless with a 7.01 ERA in his past six starts entering Friday, and he was optioned to Triple-A Round Rock earlier this month, though that was mostly to offset his heavy first-half workload.
His performance, paired with the Rangers' hot hitting early in the game, propelled the club to its third consecutive win.
"I feel like every five days I need to go out and give them seven innings," Martinez said. "The longer I go in a game, the better chance I have of winning, and the more it helps the bullpen. Any time I start going deep, it's great. That's my goal every time I go out."