June 4, 2023

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'Composure,' 'maturity' mark Pérez's Rangers return

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ARLINGTON — The last time Martín Pérez pitched for the Rangers at home, it was Sept. 23, 2018, in an entirely different stadium at Globe Life Park across the street. 

That day, he gave up one earned run in four innings of work against the Mariners in the final home game of the season. On Tuesday night, in the recently-constructed Globe Life Field, Pérez also pitched four innings, allowing three runs in the Rangers’ 4-1 loss to the Rockies as the team was swept in its first home series of the season. 

Pérez signed with the Rangers in 2007 as an international free agent out of Venezuela and spent the first seven years of his big league career with the club from ‘12-18. He finished sixth in American League Rookie of the Year voting in 2013, going 10-6 with a 3.62 ERA in 20 starts.

“This is amazing,” Pérez said of playing in the Rangers’ new stadium. “For a pitcher, I like it … the ball is not flying too much [in Globe Life Field]. It’s good, it’s a nice stadium, everything is good.” 

Pérez added that he wasn’t nervous returning to Texas, noting his maturity in not letting his emotions get the best of him. 

His return to Texas wasn’t as clean as that 2013 rookie season, though. After shutting down the Rockies in order in the top of the first inning and making it through the second without surrendering a run, he ran into trouble in each ensuing frame.

Pérez surrendered two runs and a hit-by-pitch in the top of the third, but was able to end it with 6-4-3 double play induced on a changeup low and away. The next inning, almost the exact same situation occurred: Pérez allowed a one-out single and another hit-by-pitch, but again coaxed a 6-4-3 double play, this time on a slider, to escape the inning without any damage.

He now ranks fifth all-time in Rangers history with 124 double plays induced, just behind Bobby Witt’s 137.

“I think if I keep doing those little things with those two pitches, good things are going to happen for me and for the team,” Pérez said. “So I’m just going to stay focused and play hard and see what happens. … I think everything was good except the hit-by-pitches. I think I was rushing a little bit with my front side, but I feel great. [I threw] 70 pitches, a lot of strikes, a lot of ground balls and the double plays. It was fun to be back here and do my thing again for the fans.”

Pérez returned to the mound for the fifth inning but allowed back-to-back hits before being replaced with Greg Holland. Despite the evening’s hiccups, Rangers manager Chris Woodward was impressed with Pérez and his ability to get out of trouble.

“I thought he was good,” Woodward said. “He ran into some trouble, but there were a couple innings where he made some really good pitches to get out of it. I think he just showed his experience and showed his composure. He got some guys on base, made a pitch and kept [the damage] to a minimum. He made pitches.”

Ironically, the one night the Rangers’ pitching kept the damage low was also the one night the offense couldn’t get anything going.

Coming into the two-game set against Colorado, Texas was leading all of baseball with 23 runs scored through the three games in Toronto to open the season.

In the two games against the Rockies, Texas only scored five total runs. The Rangers were inches away from a go-ahead homer in the fifth inning, when Corey Seager blasted a 406-foot shot to right-center field, but outfielder Randal Grichuk made a leaping grab to rob it and preserve a Rockies lead that they wouldn’t give up.

“That play that Grichuk made obviously changed the whole game,” Woodward said. “It was a three-run homer that would’ve given us the lead, but unfortunately did not, and he made a heck of a play. But that changed the whole game.

“We had five walks [on Tuesday], which was cool. We had some good at-bats, but we just didn’t string anything together. I feel like looking at the video after the games, there were some good pitches to hit. We just weren’t hitting them. We just never really got anything, one after another.”

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