(AP) — By the time he takes the mound at Camden Yards, it’ll be exactly a year since the Baltimore Orioles dealt Nick Martinez one of his worst outings in the majors.
Martinez probably wishes he wasn’t coming off another weak performance.
Despite a glut of quality starts this season, the right-hander seeks only his second win in just over a month when the Texas Rangers and Orioles continue this four-game series Wednesday night.
Martinez (5-4, 3.39 ERA) was roughed up for nine runs and gave up a pair of homers in six innings of a 12-2 loss at Toronto on Friday. He allowed the first three batters to reach before serving up a grand slam after giving up five earned runs over his prior three starts.
“I fell behind a lot of guys,” Martinez said of his shaky first inning. “I was just trying to find the strike zone.”
Keeping the ball in the park was a big reason for his hot start, but Martinez has allowed seven in as many outings after giving up one over his first eight. His ERA in those first eight was 1.88 but jumped to 5.10 in his last seven.
Martinez will also need to forget a dreadful outing in his lone appearance at Camden Yards on July 1. The 24-year-old also had trouble with the long ball in that one, allowing a career-worst three in an 8-3 loss to the Orioles (41-36).
Martinez gave up six earned runs in five innings as he fell to 0-2 with an 8.71 ERA in two career starts against the Orioles, who have batted .356 against him while hitting five homers.
Although the homers have started piling up again, Martinez has 11 quality starts in 15 outings to rank among the AL leaders. The problem has been the six times the Rangers (40-38) have scored two or fewer runs for him in those games.
If the Rangers stay hot after launching eight homers in the first two of this set, they can win a series against the Orioles for the first time since August 2012. Prior to their two-game outburst, they had lost 11 of 12 against Baltimore.
Mitch Moreland has hit four of Texas’ homers in the series and Josh Hamilton returned Tuesday with two singles after being out since May 31 with a strained left hamstring.
“We’re starting to get some guys back in the lineup,” manager Jeff Banister said. “We got Hamilton back in there and (he’ll) be able to provide that offense for us and stretch that lineup out. This is an offense that can be dangerous and powerful at times.”
Opposing Martinez will be Wei-Yin Chen (3-4, 2.90), who has been impressive in his last four starts with a 2-0 record, 2.13 ERA and 28 strikeouts over 25 1-3 innings – and more importantly just three homers allowed after giving up 10 in his first 10 outings.
After tossing eight innings in a 4-0 win over Philadelphia on May 16, the left-hander was briefly optioned to the minors to make room for Chris Parmelee before returning to the rotation with a solid outing Friday.
Chen, who expressed frustration via Twitter upon being sent down, went six innings and gave up two solo homers but didn’t get a decision in a 4-3 win over Cleveland.
“We haven’t had a chance to talk today, but I don’t think there is any problem,” Chen said of manager Buck Showalter. “We talked before I got optioned. So, I don’t think there’s anything between us.”
Chen has dominated Texas in his career, going 4-0 in as many starts with a 1.67 ERA. Shin-Soo Choo, who’s homered in both games of this series, is 2 for 4 with two homers off Chen.