Perez dominant as Rangers hang on against Giants
ARLINGTON, Texas -- The last start Martin Perez made for the Texas Rangers was horrible as he didn't retire a batter in the second inning in the lopsided 21-5 loss to the New York Yankees.
Sunday's outing for Perez was nearly historic.
The left-hander allowed just two hits in 8 1/3 innings, needing just 80 pitches to retire 25 batters. The Rangers needed all Perez had too as the San Francisco Giants tried to rally late before Sam Dyson closed the door for a 2-1 Texas victory.
Perez didn't allow a hit until Justin Maxwell's two-out infield single in the fifth inning, The Giants didn't have another baserunner until Angel Pagan doubled off him with one out in the ninth inning. Despite being the first Texas pitcher to retire 25 batters on 80 or fewer pitches since 1990 (Kevin Brown), Texas manager Jeff Banister opted to pull Perez and go to the bullpen.
That move nearly backfired as the Giants trimmed the lead to 2-1 and then loaded the bases with one out off Sam Dyson. But Dyson saved the day for Perez and the Rangers by getting Hunter Pence to ground into an inning-ending double play.
That grounder allowed the Rangers to improve to 3-0-1 in their last four series and shifted the focus to the dominant outing by Perez instead of a late-inning meltdown.
"My sinker was there and my changeup was amazing," said Perez, who hadn't won a game since last April 23. "And when I got the quick outs. I just wanted to continue to do that."
Perez said he had no issues with Banister coming to get him in the ninth, although he wanted to stay in the game. Banister said he wanted to make sure Perez was rewarded for his effort so he was going batter-by-batter in the ninth inning.
Banister said if the Rangers had a bigger lead he would have stayed with Perez, but with it a two-run game and the bullpen ready, he didn't want to take a chance.
"He (Perez) threw the ball well," Banister said. "He pounded the strike zone. You could look up at the board and see the number of strikes to the number of balls, he pounded the strike zone all day long. More than anything else, I think the pace he went throughout his business and kept these guys in swing mode, he was able to get them to hit the ball on the ground."
Perez is the first pitcher in the majors to retire at least 25 batters on 80 or fewer pitches since Kansas City's Luke Hochevar threw a complete game in a 4-1 win in 2009.
As good as Perez was he had no run support behind him until the sixth inning. That's when Josh Hamilton slammed a two-run homer to right off San Francisco starter Mike Leake.
Hamilton said the hitters were feeding off the way Perez was pitching. He threw just five pitches in the first inning and was at 34 pitches after four innings. The Giants didn't get a baserunner until the fifth when Brandon Belt reached on a two-out error. Maxwell followed that with the hit but Perez came back and struck out Brandon Crawford to end that threat. His pitch count after the fifth was still just 45 pitches.
"It helps tremendously," Hamilton said of having an efficient pitcher. "It keeps us engaged in the ballgame, fresh and lets us not just focus on hitting but gives us more time to prepare and get ready to go up there and do something."