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Martinez, Baker can only look forward

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Things unraveled quickly for Texas Rangers starting pitcher Nick Martinez on Monday.

The first three Cleveland Indians batters reached base on two singles and a walk.

Those runs would be driven in, along with five more in the second.

Martinez gave up two home runs in that second inning before he was pulled in favor of reliever Scott Baker to start of the third inning.

It certainly was a low point for the right-handed Martinez, who had gone at least five innings in his seven previous starts this season.

While he hasn’t faced many poor starts, a bad game in the span of the season is a given, Martinez acknowledged, especially for a 23-year-old rookie.

“That’s unavoidable at any age,” Martinez said. “Those days happen. You’ve just got to nip it in the bud and get back to work and focus on your next start.”

Martinez’s relief, Baker, experienced the same kind of roller-coaster ride Monday, but his was over the course of his five innings of work.

His final line certainly was nothing to gloat over -- nine runs on 11 hits, three of which were home runs -- but within the outing were a few high points.

He began his night slowly in allowing four runs in his first two innings of work, including giving up two home runs in the fourth inning.

However, he was able to find traction that Martinez never grasped, allowing just one run on three hits through the fifth, sixth and seventh innings.

“It was kind of strange, because I would have some good stretches there,” Baker said. “The [pitching] is there. The stuff is there. I’m just making too many mistakes.

“When you’ve got guys with two strikes in the count, you’ve got to make good two-strike pitches.”

Such was the case with Indians third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall in the sixth inning when he took a 1-2 pitch to center field for an RBI double.

Ultimately, with a game that was out of hand from the first inning, Baker achieved the next-best goal: eating innings.

“He held us in there,” Washington said. “He at least kept us out of that bullpen. As I said, we just couldn’t stop them. We needed to get him to get us deep as we possibly could so we could save those guys in the bullpen, and he did that.”

Neither pitcher could account for the kind of tear Chisenhall would have Monday, registering the fourth five-hit, three-home run, nine-RBI game in the major leagues since RBIs were first tracked in 1920. He entered Monday’s game 5-for-12 in the series with four RBIs and a home run.

“I think you’re aware coming into the series that, right now, he’s probably their hottest hitter,” Baker said. “Of course, it just comes down to making pitches.”

Baker said he liked the first two pitches he threw to Chisenhall in the top of the fourth to collect a 1-1 count, but just missed on this third pitch, which Chisenhall launched over the center-field wall.

After the harsh experiences Martinez and Baker had Monday, they agreed the biggest lesson learned is to not look back at the peaks and valleys, but hope to carry some momentum into their next start or appearance.

“Mentally, you’ve just got to go out and attack the hitters,” Martinez said. “If you have a night like tonight, where you’re not pounding the strike zone, the next start you have to pound the strike zone and attack hitters.”