Rangers' Perez goes for eighth straight win (Sep 13, 2017)
ARLINGTON, Texas -- The only thing that can steal the spotlight from Texas Rangers starter Martin Perez is Willie Mania, which invaded Globe Life Park on Tuesday when the club opted to call up outfield prospect Willie Calhoun, who made his big-league debut Tuesday.
Calhoun's promotion should give the offense a boost the way Perez has given the rotation a lift.
Perez (12-10, 4.81 ERA) will go for his eighth win in eight starts Wednesday when the Rangers host Seattle and right-hander Mike Leake (9-12, 4.10 ERA overall) in the third game of the four-game series.
As much fanfare as the Calhoun promotion garnered Tuesday, the 22-year-old outfielder is trying to downplay the hype.
"I try not to think about it much," said Calhoun, who went 1-for-4 Tuesday in his debut in a 10-3 loss to Seattle. "I don't put any extra pressure on myself at all. I don't really think about that when I'm on the field. I just go out there and play my game and have fun."
In a combined 128 games in Double-A and Triple-A this year, Calhoun hit .300 with a .355 on-base percentage, a .572 slugging percentage, 31 homers and 93 RBIs.
The Rangers plan to play Calhoun in left field down the stretch. That allows them to put Joey Gallo at third base in the absence of Adrian Beltre, who likely won't play in the field for the remainder of the regular season because of a hamstring strain.
"I'm gaining a lot of confidence out there," said Calhoun, who didn't have any issues in left Tuesday night. "That's something that I play off of a lot is confidence."
Perez will have the benefit of Calhoun behind him, although Perez hasn't needed much help recently. His winning streak is tied for the second longest in club history and one shy of the record of eight set by Kenny Rogers in 2005.
During the streak, Perez has a 3.15 ERA, which has lowered his overall mark from 5.46 to its current mark.
The Mariners should provide Perez a solid chance at matching the Rogers record. In 15 appearances against Seattle, including 13 starts, he is 6-3 with a 3.30 ERA. This will be his fourth start against the Mariners this season, and he is 1-1 with a 3.86 ERA.
Leake isn't as familiar with the Rangers as Perez is with the Mariners, but he also has had success despite not winning any of previous three starts against them. Leake is 0-1 for his career against Texas, but he has a 2.33 ERA, pitching six innings in each of the three outings.
Leake, who was acquired from the St. Louis Cardinals on Aug. 30, is making his third start with Seattle. He won his first two while pitching to a 2.77 ERA.
With Seattle (72-73) trailing the Minnesota Twins (75-69) by 3 1/2 games in the chase for the second American League wild card and sitting a half-game behind the Rangers (72-72), Mariners manager Scott Servais knows how important Wednesday's game is.
"We have 17 games left," Servais said. "It's too late if you wait till there's five or six games left so you've got to win them all. Our guys are focused. We had a good meeting (Tuesday), and they responded really well."