Martín Perez Excels As Texas Takes Middle Game In Oakland


Behind 7 impressive innings from rookie LHP Martin Perez (9-3), the Rangers (80-58) mustered a 5-1 win at O-dot-Co on Tuesday night, and, at least temporarily, own a 1.0 game lead over the Athletics in the American League West. Life is good at this precise wrinkle in time.

Martin Perez is the latest novelty item for the Rangers fan base to fawn over, and you are not going to catch me being the first to tell any of them to stop.

Ostensibly, Perez is the club’s #4 starting pitcher; in reality he’s been, next to all-universe ace, Yu Darvish, the best thing the Rangers have seen over the last month as far as the rotation is concerned. As Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News tweeted out, “Over [the] last seven starts for Perez: 2.54 ERA. Has faced Felix (2x), Sale and Colon in last four starts.”

Martín is 22 years old.

On Tuesday, he did allow his fair share of hits (8), sure, but as far as efficiency (90 pitches) and run prevention (1 run) is concerned, it was as strong of a performance as we’ve seen from him in 2013, particularly when one factors in just how important this game meant to the Rangers. In 7 frames, he didn’t allow any walks for the first time this year, and unless my eyes were deceiving me, he used significantly more change ups than in any other start in 2013. The change up is Perez’s most advanced pitch — probably by far — and only recently has he utilized it as a legit weapon. I’m certain the Rangers are aware of this, inasmuch as the teams Perez will be facing over this last month of baseball.

As it turned out, the only Oakland hitter to score on the night was the leadoff hitter, Coco Crisp. It wasn’t a dominant start for Martín; he didn’t fool the opposition in Darvish-like fashion; he wasn’t smooth like Derek Holland is when he’s liquidating lineups down to a fine powder; it was, rather, a classic example of the jargon Ron Washington perpetually spews to the media… “He kept the team in it” … “He did what the game asked him to.”

Jesus Christ, I’ve referenced Wash and Evan Grant in the same article. THIS IS WHAT LOSING YOUR MIND LOOKS LIKE.

Offensively, the Rangers produced their runs in a very Ranger-esque sort of way: There were two random solo homers — one from the suddenly scorching-hot Mitch Moreland, the other from the light-hitting acquisition Alex Rios has become — and the lineup peppered in 9 more hits on the side.

Rios, Moreland, Craig Gentry, Jurickson Profar, and Ian Kinsler each accumulated 2 hits. Unironically, those were also the 5 Rangers who scored runs on Tuesday night.

On the year, Profar’s contributions could, in a sense, be considered underwhelming. After all, he’s *only* hitting .238/.315/.340 (78 wRC+). However, I imagine at least a fraction [that rhymes] of our perceptions have been fucked for the rest of our lives due to recent top-prospect breakouts from guys like Mike Trout, Bryce Harper and Manny Machado. Baseball is getting younger, faster, and, quite frankly, better, and Jurickson is still only 20 years old — we can’t forget this fact — so his best and brightest days are not in 2013. He’s been smacking the ball of late, but he isn’t anywhere near what he will be in 2014, let’s say.

Right now, 2014 doesn’t matter to Ranger fans. Hell, even Tuesday night’s game isn’t going to matter once Wednesday afternoon’s rubber match gets underway. But this is where we are right now.

Lament that Texas had a 3-game lead a couple weeks ago. Lament that we should have buried the Athletics when they were in Baltimore and Detroit while we, the Rangers, were in Chicago and Seattle. Lament Derek Holland’s recent regression, or Matt Garza‘s lukewarm results. Lament that Yu Darvish isn’t a “true ace” because he isn’t “clutch,” or whatever.

But if you are going to sleep on this team, wait until the winter. Now is not time to abandon ship; all hands must be on deck.