OAKLAND, CA - APRIL 22: Nick Martinez #22 of the Texas Rangers pitches against the Oakland Athletics in the bottom of the first inning at O.co Coliseum on April 22, 2014 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Nick Martinez had been very good in his previous two starts prior to Thursday's outing in the finale of a four-game set in Minnesota.
The Texas Rangers got out of the game with a win, but it wasn't really because of Martinez, who scuffled through 5 2/3 innings, giving up nine hits and four earned runs while walking two and fanning two.
In his prior two starts against two big-time lineups — Toronto and Detroit — Martinez combined to pitch 11 innings and allowed just two earned runs. While he struggled on Thursday, the game could end up being a big confidence boost for the 23-year-old righty.
"It was a learning experience for him today, to go out there and keep his team in the ballgame when he didn't have his best stuff. That was awesome right there," Washington told reporters after the game.
Perhaps bigger than his own confidence after getting out of numerous jams on Thursday is the increased confidence from Washington in his young pitcher who had only pitched five games above the Class-A level prior to this season before being unexpectedly tossed into the makeshift Opening Day rotation.