Nick Martinez threw his normal between-starts bullpen session Wednesday at Dodger Stadium and said he still felt strong and fresh after logging 78 1/3 innings in 13 starts this season.
But he’s not going to turn down the extra day of rest the Texas Rangers have decided to give him and the other four members of the starting rotation.
Right-hander Anthony Ranaudo will be recalled from Triple A Round Rock on Thursday and start the finale of the two-game series against the Los Angeles Dodgers. That will push Colby Lewis to the opener of the three-game series Friday at Chicago.
“I’m always OK with more rest,” Martinez said. “As the season goes on, your body gets tired. You take these extra days they give you. We’ve played about a third of the season. That second third is when your body starts to feel achy.”
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The decision to start Ranaudo will also keep Lewis from batting in the National League park, though manager Jeff Banister said that wasn’t the motivating factor. As the Rangers have strung together a club-record 12 consecutive quality starts, innings have mounted.
“Getting them an extra day would be beneficial,” Banister said.
Ranaudo will be making his second start of the season, and the first was a disaster. He allowed six runs in 1 2/3 innings April 15 in a spot start for the injured Derek Holland, but says that he is in a much better place now.
He is 7-1 with a 2.45 ERA at Round Rock and has started to find the strike zone more consistently the past five starts.
“Whenever you’re struggling, there’s an adjustment to be made,” Ranaudo said. “I don’t think it was necessarily something crazy or drastic. It was just staying in line and the mentality I was taking out there.”
Lewis will fly to Chicago on Thursday ahead of the rest of the Rangers, who won’t arrive in the Windy City until 5 or 6 a.m. Friday.
The original Rangers lineup against Clayton Kershaw, the best left-hander in the game, had the left-handed-hitting Mitch Moreland and Prince Fielder on the bench.
That was before the right-handed hitting Kyle Blanks was scratched with tendinitis in his left and right Achilles tendons. Fielder became the first baseman, his first game in the field since May 12 and just his 11th of the season.
Blanks, who was slowed last season and in spring training by the same injuries, is considered day-to-day.
Because there is no designated hitter in interleague games in NL parks, Moreland, who has been the regular first baseman, could get another day off Thursday. Left field is not an option.
“I’m not going to put Mitch in the outfield,” said Banister, who said that Kershaw was less of a factor in his original lineup than just getting Fielder and Moreland rest ahead of the tough travel itinerary this weekend. “All those points added up to it might be a good day to let them sit down for a bit.”
Joey Gallo did get to face Kershaw despite his noted struggles against lefties (.105). Banister put Gallo in the third spot and in left field after seeing improved at-bats of late. Gallo showed improvement with a two-run homer off Kershaw in the third inning.
“It does take some time to allow yourself to settle in and [get rid] of some of the anxiety of being in the big leagues,” Banister said. “This is going to be a tough night for Joey. This is a tough night for everyone that walks to the plate.”
▪ The Rangers’ 60-38 interleague record since 2010 entering Wednesday was the best in the majors. They have been .500 or better in interleague play in each season since 2007.
▪ The game Wednesday was the Rangers’ first at Dodger Stadium since June 13, 2001. Only two clubs had a longer stretch without a road game at a particular park.
Jeff Wilson, 817-390-7760