The Texas Rangers and Colorado Rockies faced off on Friday night at Globe Life Field in the first of a three-game series. Martin Perez entered the start coming off three consecutive below-average starts. He was going up against Karl Kauffman who was making his MLB debut. It would be up to Perez to hold Colorado in check and give the offense the opportunity to score runs. The Rangers were counting on him to pitch under control and be able to keep the Rockies' lineup in check. He came through on both counts as he also set a new season-high in this start.
Texas Rangers' Martin Perez vs the Rockies
Martin Perez set the tone early. He came out and on seven pitches retired Charlie Blackmon, Kris Bryant, and Elias Diaz to end the top of the first. That was a complete reversal from his last start against the A's when Esteurys Ruiz hit a leadoff home run on the first pitch he saw. Perez continued pitching well through the early innings. Both starters benefitted from a wide and tall strike zone from the home plate umpire last night. That zone allowed Perez to throw his cutter and changeup out of the zone and get called strikes.
Perez was locating his pitches well. There were less pitches left in the middle of the plate and more located around the edges of the strike zone. That is what allowed him to strike out Michael Toglia and Ezequiel Tovar in the third inning. He ran into some trouble in the fourth, after allowing singles to Diaz and Ryan McMahon. He got Alan Trejo to pop up on the first pitch he saw to end the fourth. He bounced right back with a clean fifth inning that included two more strikeouts.
Perez was through five and had allowed no runs, no walks, and had five strikeouts. The score at that time was 2-0 on an Adolis Garcia two-run home run hit in the fourth inning. He was going right through the Rockies lineup and it appeared he would have a shot to pitch deep into the game.
Texas Rangers' Big Fifth Inning
The Rangers offense then woke up in the bottom of the fifth. This big inning started with the bottom of the lineup. Taveras reached on a throwing error from Rockies shortstop Tovar. After that play the Rangers were off and running. Marcus Semien singled and moved Taveras to second. Corey Seager then lined a double down the left field for his first hit since coming off the IL. That double scored both Taveras and Seminen.
The Rangers were not done yet. Karl Kauffman was removed and Peter Lambert was brought into the game. Lambert hit Garcia. Josh Jung then added two more runs when he hit a double to left field. Grossman then finished it off with an RBI single to increase the lead to 7-0. It was the Rangers' 12th five-run inning of the season. They ended up sending 10 men to the plate.
Martin Perez in the late innings
The one downside to this long inning was the length of time that Perez was sitting down. Perez had a 13 pitch at-bat against Tovar to end the fifth. After that he was on the bench for 20 minutes and 30 seconds. That is a long time to sit down and it showed in the sixth. That was the worst inning for Perez. He gave up three doubles, one single, and two runs in the inning. Bochy started getting the bullpen warm at one point. Perez got through it by striking out Brenton Doyle to end the inning.
The question through the bottom of the inning was if Perez would come back out for the seventh. Bochy let him return to the mound. He finished off his night strong with another strikeout of Toglia, then two lineouts from Tovar and Blackmon. That was it for the night for Perez.
This was the best start of the season for Perez. He established a new season-high in innings. He set a season high in pitches with 104.He did not have any walks, he struck out seven. He had one bad inning, but held Colorado scoreless in the other six innings. Here is his pitch chart for the game
Yes there are some pitches still left in the middle and it was not an ideal performance from Perez. He was not hurt by those that missed their location. He was removed after seven innings and handed a 7-2 lead over to the bullpen.
Joe Barlow and Jose Leclerc both pitched scoreless innings. Barlow did give up a hit. Garcia finished up the game in style with this catch.
The Rangers with the win improved to 27-17. Martin Perez got the win and is now has a 5-1 record. They continue to hold a two-game lead over the Astros in the AL West and four games or more over everyone else. With the win the Rangers now have an 8-6 record following a loss. They have a 21-5 record when they score five or more runs.
Preview of Saturday's Game
The Rangers and Rockies play game two of the series this afternoon. It will be Jon Gray going up against former teammate Kyle Freeland. Gray is coming off two of his best starts of the season. He went eight innings his last time out and seven innings the start before that. He has allowed only one earned run in those 15 innings and struck out 13 and walked two.
Kyle Freeland his last two starts have been almost as dominant. He went six innings his last time out against the Phillies allowing no runs, with eight strikeouts and one walk. The start before that was seven innings against Pittsburgh with two runs allowed.
Both pitchers will be looking to continue their strong runs. Game time today is 3:05pm and the game will be broadcast by Bally Sports Southwest.