Rotation nets record 10th straight quality start

Rotation nets record 10th straight quality start

ARLINGTON -- Nick Martinez didn't know he delivered the Rangers' 10th consecutive quality start Sunday to tie a club record set in 1978, and even when he found out, it was hard to celebrate after the Rangers' 4-3 loss to the Twins.

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Despite Martinez overcoming a bad first inning to go six more, Shawn Tolleson took the loss when Eddie Rosario's RBI double put the Twins ahead in the ninth inning.

Martinez surrendered a leadoff home run to Brian Dozier, and Trevor Plouffe walked and later scored on an Eduardo Nunez double in the first inning. Martinez still was able to settle in and finished with three earned runs on eight hits and five strikeouts over seven innings.

"He did compete well," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "He continued to pitch. It could have been a growth moment for Nick today in understanding what he needs to do, needs to stick to doing. I felt like he pitched well, but not as sharp as we've seen him in the past."

Martinez had to work out of jams all game, and he didn't have the best of luck. Minnesota had four triples against Martinez, and there were multiple instances in which Rangers outfielders let the ball rattle deep into the outfield after poorly timed dives.

Martinez finally got a break when Robinson Chirinos threw down to third to pick off Shane Robinson, which likely saved a run in the sixth inning. The Twins had three triples in that frame, but only scored once -- the only such instance in the past 50 years, according to Elias Sports Bureau.

"I thought I made some good pitches that they hit, and I also made some bad pitches that they hit," Martinez said. "Those things happen. You just have to grind that out."

Martinez certainly did grind it out, but while the rotation continued to excel, the bullpen struggled. Tolleson, who came into the game with a 2.54 ERA and eight saves in eight chances as the Rangers' unofficial closer, left a changeup over the plate that resulted in the Rosario double.

"It doesn't shake my confidence in Shawn at all," Banister said. "Every pitcher that pitches at the end of the game, they have these type of moments. Very rarely are they perfect. They pitch on the edge. That last out is a tough out to get."

That streak, though, is still alive. And if the Rangers continue to get solid starting pitching, they will continue to win games.

"I think at the start of the year this wouldn't be the five guys you'd expect," first baseman Mitch Moreland said. "But all these guys have really stepped up and challenged each other. They go out there and have battled all year for us. Like I said, it kind of sets the tone for us."

Cody Stavenhagen is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.