Martinez gets start as Rangers host Blue Jays (Jun 20, 2017)
For a pitcher, you might say Nick Martinez handles the changeup well.
With Tyson Ross back in the rotation after spending the first 2 1/2 months recovering from shoulder surgery, Martinez was expected to be back in the bullpen full time as a long reliever.
And during the weekend, the Texas right-hander was a long reliever. But when Andrew Cashner went to the disabled list with an oblique strain, Martinez was suddenly a starter again.
Martinez will make his 10th start on Tuesday against Toronto left-hander Francisco Liriano in the second of a four-game set.
“Whatever the team needs me to do, I’m happy to do it,” Martinez said. His job, he said, was “just being ready when my name’s called. Making sure I’m ready every day.”
Martinez will take a 1-3 record with a 4.67 ERA into the game against Liriano, who is 3-2 with a 5.36 ERA.
Liriano, who missed starts in May with shoulder issues, turned in a good performance his last time out, giving up two earned runs, five hits and two walks in a season-high seven innings.
Offensively, the Blue Jays have been leaning on the long ball.
With two home runs, Toronto is sixth in the American League after beginning the season with the third fewest in April with 22. The Blue Jays have 24 in June and can’t seem to score recently unless the ball is hit over the fence.
Over the just-completed five-game homestand, Toronto scored 12 of its 21 runs by home run. During the course of the season, the Blue Jays’ 95 homers have led to 163 of their 291 runs.
If that current rate of 56 percent of runs scored holds, it would be the highest rate of production from home runs of any team in major league history, according to STATS Inc.
The home run is a big part of the culture, particularly in the American League East, Toronto manager John Gibbons said.
“You can’t single a team to death,” he said.
The Blue Jays could use a few of those, however. A number of the club’s home runs are solo shots. Of Justin Smoak’s 20 homers, 12 have been hit with no one on base.
“That’s kind of taken over the game. The whole American League is like that. Teams that win hit home runs, that’s just the way it is. The ball seems to be flying this year.
“Now, you need some simple singles every now and then if you really want to win.”
Gibbons said that though he’s not averse to juggling the lineup in hopes of getting more men on base, he’s got nothing in the works.
Smoak seems to have a found a home in the No. 5 hole, and Jose Bautista is Jose Bautista is Jose Bautista.
“I’m constantly with my coaches thinking of how to adjust things,” Gibbons said. “And I can be stubborn, and I’m a patient guy. Guys who have done it before, I like to just leave them alone. Juggling it causes more chaos. Certain guys identify with certain spots.”
This isn’t a matchup that would seem to favor Martinez, who has given up a co-leading 13 home runs this season.
That’s probably more of a burden than his changing roles with the team.
“Going back and forth … you just have to plug along,” Martinez said, but “my body feels good, mind feels good. I feel good.”