Martinez -- who wore the moniker "Tricky" on the back of his jersey for the opener of Players Weekend -- allowed three runs in seven innings, but the offense couldn't support him and the Rangers lost to the last-place Athletics, 3-1, on Friday night at the Coliseum. The Rangers are now two games behind the Twins in the Wild Card race.
Martinez allowed just four hits and two were home runs by Khris Davis, who now has 15 in 28 career games against the Rangers.
"A lot of things were encouraging by Nick tonight," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "He pounded the strike zone and his first-pitch strike ratio was good. He was also able to back it up when he got behind by throwing strikes. Loved the way Nick was poised on the mound and he was able to keep his delivery intact. Solid outing by Nick."
Martinez was called up after allowing no runs over seven innings in each of two consecutive starts for Triple-A Round Rock. Normally Martinez gets thrust into the rotation when the Rangers have an injury.
This time he was called up because Tyson Ross is struggling and the Rangers needed a boost to the rotation in their quest for a Wild Card spot.
"Yeah, I'm here to help the team win and take advantage of the opportunity," Martinez said. "Whatever I can do to help us push into October and continue to win."
This marked only the eighth time in 64 career starts Martinez has been able to complete seven innings and just the second time in his last 27.
"You look early on, and his ball-strike ratio was even," Athletics manager Bob Melvin said. "So, he was a little bit effectively wild earlier, but he was throwing a bit harder than we've seen him in the past. Ball got on you a little bit quicker, and we hadn't really seen him throw that hard before. And he was making pitches when he had to when he was behind in the count."
He only allowed one hit through six innings and that came with one out in the fourth. Martinez, leading 1-0, missed with two fastballs to Davis so he tried one more. Davis hit it out to left field to tie the game.
"Down 2-0, I don't want to let that inning start to get out of hand," Martinez said. "I was still in an attacking mode, but he didn't miss."
It was still tied when Davis led off the seventh. This time Martinez got ahead 1-2 in the count and was hoping to get Davis to chase a curve ball. But he left it over the plate and Davis hit it out for his 36th home run of the season.
"A curveball that didn't bounce," Martinez said. "I had my eyes on the ground and didn't get it there."