Martín Pérez pitches 6 perfect innings against Astros
ARLINGTON — Nine years ago, Martín Pérez was a promising Rangers pitcher playing his first full season in the major leagues. After a long and winding road, including stops in Minnesota and Boston, he returned to Texas and flirted with perfection in his fourth start of the season on Thursday afternoon.
Pérez pitched seven innings — the first six of which were perfect — allowing one run on two hits and no walks, but he had to settle for no decision as the Rangers fell, 3-2, to the Astros. at Globe Life Domain. The southpaw said it meant a lot to have this kind of outing at this point in his career while back in Texas.
“I’m more experienced now,” Pérez said of his second stint in Texas. “I just try to attack the hitters every time. I want to go there with conviction. I was trying to do my best and keep the ball in play and make sure the guys were at the right time with me so they could get out. Today was amazing. I think [the Astros] just did a little better than us.
Pérez’s perfect play bid was interrupted by Chas McCormick, who started the seventh inning with a brace wide of right center field. Two batters later, he lost the lead with an RBI single from Yordan Alvarez, which broke the 0-0 draw as well as Pérez’s 13-inning scoreless streak.
The Rangers still haven’t thrown a hit since Kenny Rogers’ perfect game on July 24, 1994.
It was the longest perfect streak to open a start in Pérez’s career, and he needed less than 10 pitches to get through three of his seven frames. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Pérez is only the second MLB pitcher this season to open a start with at least six perfect innings, joining the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw (perfect seven) on April 13.
Pérez is also the first Rangers pitcher to accept a no-hitter offer or a perfect game in the seventh inning or later since Mike Minor on June 27, 2018 against the Padres. Minor’s no-hitter was called off with an out in the seventh.
“It’s as good as I’ve seen a guy throw,” Rangers manager Chris Woodward said. “Looking back at some of the pitches he made, he just kept executing and executing. I thought he was going to throw the perfect game, frankly. I can’t say enough about what he has fact.
It was a brilliantly pitched game on both sides of the ball, with Houston starter Justin Verlander striking out nine of the first 10 batters he faced before sitting down 11 more in a row between Andy Ibáñez’s third-inning single and the seventh inning by Corey Seager. Single.
The Rangers tied the game, 1-1, in the bottom of the seventh inning, but despite the Pérez gem, the Astros hitters came out on top. Pérez’s day ended with 76 pitches over seven innings, and reliever Matt Bush gave up a two-run homer to Kyle Tucker, putting Houston back in the lead.
Pérez said he was ready to return to the mound in the eighth, and Woodward said he probably would have let him if the bottom of the seventh hadn’t taken as long as Rangers tied the game. Even with the low pitch count, Pérez hadn’t pitched the eighth inning at all this season and the staff took that into account.
The skipper added that he felt Pérez had done his job so far, and it was up to the bullpen to hold the tie.
“I say when you dominate, you dominate,” Pérez said. “They made the decision, and there’s nothing you can do. I respect him, but I don’t think that way. I know I can go deep and I know what I can do. … The pitching coaches came up to me and told me I was done. I will never tell them anything, because they made the decision, but I was ready. No matter how long the inning is, I was ready to go out there and pitch one more inning, or at least two more batters. That was the decision, and I agree with that.
All things considered, Pérez is perhaps the best starting pitcher for Rangers at this point in the season. His Thursday outing was the longest outing by a Texas pitcher this season and the only outing without a walk.
“I think he was unlucky [in his first two starts]”Woodward said. “I think he just throws a lot of pitches. He’s really good. He’s got the experience to see a hitter in there and be able to execute. He’s done a good job today, and he’s done it the last two starts. It comes down to execution, and he’s executing as well as I’ve seen a pitcher.