Martinez returns to Rangers, gets nod vs. A's

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Right-hander Nick Martinez makes a return to the major leagues when he opens a three-game series for the Texas Rangers against the Oakland Athletics on Friday night.

He will be opposed by A's right-hander Kendall Graveman.

Martinez (3-4, 5.38 ERA) was demoted to Triple-A Round Rock after two dismal outings earlier this month. He was roughed up for 12 runs and 13 hits in 9 1/3 innings in losses to the Seattle Mariners and Minnesota Twins, prompting a change in the Texas rotation.

The time in the minors seems to have paid off for the 27-year-old, who earned a promotion following two starts in which he allowed no runs and just eight hits in 14 innings.

Martinez will take the spot previously occupied by Tyson Ross, who will work for the time being out of the bullpen. Right-hander A.J. Griffin, originally scheduled to pitch Friday, was pushed back to Sunday.

"We're in a race, and the starting rotation is your No. 1 asset," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said Thursday before Texas' 3-0 win over the Los Angeles Angels. "Consistency out of the rotation is necessary. Tyson has shown flashes, but he has struggled. It's been a challenge for him this year. We just thought it was time to make the move."

The Rangers (64-63) find themselves in the thick of the race for an American League wild-card playoff spot. Texas will take the field Friday one game out of the second wild-card position after taking three of four from the Angels.

Martinez could find himself in the right place at the right time. He is 4-0 with a 1.26 ERA in six career games, including four starts, in Oakland. Overall against the A's, he is 4-2 with a 2.57 ERA in 12 games (eight starts).

The A's are coming home after going 2-4 on a trip to Houston and Baltimore.

Graveman (3-4, 4.54 ERA) pitched well in one of those losses, giving up just two runs and six hits in six innings Saturday against the first-place Astros. The A's lost the game 3-0.

The 26-year-old has allowed just four total runs in his past two starts while seeing his season ERA drop from 4.97 to 4.54.

Graveman is 2-2 with a 5.20 in six career starts against the Rangers.

The A's were in a similar spoiler role when then nearly won their three-game series against the Orioles earlier this week. They rallied from a late 6-1 deficit to force extra innings in the rubber game of the series Wednesday, only to fall 8-7 in 12 innings.

"There are games that you lose, and there are games that you fight as hard as you can possibly fight," A's manager Bob Melvin said Wednesday. "Unfortunately, we ended up on the losing end, but these guys battled as hard as we've seen them all year."

A's fans will get a chance to see rookie Boog Powell for the first time since he took over as the club's everyday center fielder.

That became official Wednesday when Oakland dealt Rajai Davis, who had been platooning with Powell, to the Boston Red Sox for 18-year-old prospect Rafael Rincones.

Powell, acquired from Seattle in the Yonder Alonso trade earlier this month, went 10-for-18 on the trip, raising his average from .208 to .303.