Apr 18, 2014; Arlington, TX, USA; Texas Rangers starting pitcher Martin Perez (33) celebrates after defeating the Chicago White Sox 12-0 at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.
Jim Cowsert/Jim Cowsert-USA TODAY Sports
ARLINGTON, Texas – The concerns about Martin Perez not being able to handle the pressure of an Opening Day start seem kind of silly now. The Rangers’ 23-year-old lefty has arguably been the best starter on the staff so far in 2014.
After throwing a complete-game shutout against the White Sox on Friday, Perez is 3-0 with a 1.86 ERA.
Only two other Rangers’ starters have even one win â Robbie Ross and Yu Darvish are both 1-0.
The way Perez was throwing Friday, he could pile up a lot more wins before the season is over. He was in complete command of his repertoire in limiting the White Sox to just four baserunners in a 12-0 win.
Everything," was Perez’ response when asked what was working for him. "I threw curve, change-up, slider, two-seamer in and two-seamer away. It was nice. When you have that conviction and you trust your stuff, you can do whatever you want.
Like the last pitch, I say ‘fastball.’ No matter where I throw it, I just want to throw a fastball. If it gets hit, OK."
Perez was hit just three times by the White Sox, with Leury Garcia providing the only scoring threat with a third-inning double.
It resulted in Perez’ first career complete-game shutout and matched his career high for strikeouts with eight. The last Ranger to throw a shutout was Derek Holland last September against the Astros.
And Perez did it with the security of a 10-run lead after the fourth inning. The Rangers scored two runs in the first inning and erupted for seven runs in the third.
I never think that we’re winning 10-0," Perez said. "I just think it’s 0-0. You never can say, ‘OK I’ve got this game.’ I have to continue to pitch and attack the hitters, throw the ball down.
The guys did a great job, too. We hit them pretty well and we won the game. It’s awesome."
That word "awesome" is also how catcher Robinson Chirinos described Perez’ performance.
He was fun to catch, fun to watch," said Chirinos who, like Perez, is from Venezuela. "He’s executing every pitch. He’s going to have a night like tonight when he’s throwing down in the strike zone with all his pitches. He’s been attacking and competing from day one."
Perez threw eight shutout innings in his previous start, a 1-0 win over Houston. That makes for the first back-to-back starts of eight-plus scoreless innings since C.J. Wilson and Derek Holland accomplished the feat in 2011.
Before them, the last Ranger to pull it off was Ed Correa in 1986.
So far Perez has proven that the major league stage isn’t too big for him this season. It’s hindsight now, but he’s making a good case that he could have handled that Opening Day start with the same confidence he’s shown all season.
Only God knows," Chirinos said. "He was OK with it, and I know in the future I know he’s going to have a chance to open a season for us."