Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington (38) heads to the mound to relieve pitcher Martin Perez (33) during the fourth inning of a baseball game against the Boston Red Sox, Saturday, May 10, 2014, in Arlington, Texas.
ARLINGTON, Texas – Texas manager Ron Washington thought left-hander Martin Perez was going to be able to recover from a wobbly start Saturday night against Boston.
But for a third-consecutive outing, it didn’t happen.
Perez, the club’s player of the month in April, was out of the game after just 3 2/3 innings as the Red Sox knocked off the Rangers 8-3. Perez (4-3) is 0-3 over his last three starts with a 12.83 ERA. He’s pitched a total of 13 1/3 innings in those three starts, which followed back-to-back complete game shutouts.
The 23-year-old Perez was his own worst enemy Saturday as a result of trying to do too much when he was struggling with his command.
"I got mad," Perez said. "When I get mad, I lose my mind and you have to focus pitch-by-pitch. I can’t do that anymore. I have to stay focused pitch-by-pitch and wait for my next start."
The Rangers tried to coax Perez through the Boston potent lineup but it wasn’t happening. Two visits from pitching coach Mike Maddux failed to do the trick as he walked two batters in the second, hit another and only avoided a big inning because he got help from a caught stealing by Robinson Chirinos and an assist on a throw by Martin Perez to end the inning with a 1-0 Boston lead despite five baserunners.
He hung a pitch to David Ortiz in the third inning and Ortiz hit it 367 feet to make it 2-0.
Just when Washington thought his prized lefty was settling down, it all went awry in the fourth. Boston collected five hits in a six-batter stretch to put the finishing touches on the start for Perez, who becomes the first Texas starter to allow at least five earned runs in three-consecutive starts since Nick Tepesch did it last summer.
"I don’t know if something’s out of whack but it didn’t seem like he could get in rhythm," Washington said. "In the third inning it looked like he found some rhythm there where he was executing some pitches. Then he went back out there and couldn’t keep his changeup in the zone. He just didn’t have a breaking ball where he could get them off his fastball. The umpire wasn’t giving him the low fastball so he had to elevate a little bit but it just looked like he couldn’t get in rhythm."
While the Rangers weren’t happy with home-plate umpire Bill Miller’s strike zone, it didn’t hurt Boston ace Jon Lester. He didn’t allow a hit until the fourth inning on a night when Maddux was ejected by first-base umpire Vic Carapazza for arguing balls and strikes.
Lester, who pitched seven innings, was able to adjust to the zone while that never happened for Perez.
Even his final line of 3 2/3 innings pitched was a little deceiving as Perez only retired nine batters, with two others being erased on the bases. He walked four, struck out four and allowed nine hits.
Perez chalked up his last start (five innings, five earned runs) to pitching at Coors Field in a loss to Colorado. The ballpark had no impact on his outing Saturday.
"Too many balls," said Perez, who threw 52 of his 86 pitches for strikes. "I was trying to overthrow and with two strikes, the pitches stayed up, and in that situation you have to throw the ball down, especially the breaking pitch. That happened to me tonight. Just learn and keep working."
The Rangers didn’t do much to help Perez offensively. After getting their first hit in the fourth, the Rangers scored twice in that inning and then added another run in the fifth to make it 6-3. But Texas had just three hits over the final four frames.