Long ball finally gets Perez at mile high
Homerless streak ends as Arenado, Tulowitzki go deep for Rockies
DENVER -- When he took the mound Monday for the Rangers, Martin Perez had the longest stretch without yielding a home run of any active Major League pitcher. Continuing that streak in his debut at Coors Field was going to be a challenge, one that was too daunting, as it turned out.
Perez was somewhat mystified at the two homers he allowed, two-run shots by Nolan Arenado in the second and Troy Tulowitzki in the fifth, that helped power the Rockies to an 8-2 win over the Rangers. Tulowitzki also hit another two-run homer in the seventh off Shawn Tolleson.
Perez set the Rockies down in order in the first, a nice beginning as he tried to rebound from his worst start of the season. That extended his homerless streak to 46 consecutive innings, including 43 2/3 this season. But the streak ended in the second, and Perez's start descended from there as he gave up seven hits and five runs in five innings. Perez allowed the leadoff man to reach base in four innings, and three times he scored.
Meanwhile, Jordan Lyles, who had never beaten the Rangers and had been hit hard by them, became the first Rockies pitcher to work into the ninth, leaving after allowing a leadoff single to Adrian Beltre, who scored against Nick Masset.
Lyles, who is 4-0 in seven starts with a 2.62 ERA, got 15 outs on ground balls and joined Mike Hampton as the second pitcher in Rockies history to win four or more games with no losses in the team's first 34 games. Hampton went 5-0 in 2001.
The Rockies and their opponents were averaging a Major League high three homers per game at Coors Field -- 48 homers in 16 games. The home run by Arenado extended his hitting streak to 25 games, two shy of the Rockies club record set last year by Michael Cuddyer. Arenado managed to drive a four-seam fastball that was well inside down the left-field line for his sixth homer of the season.
"It was inside," Perez said. "I don't know how he hit that ball. If it was in another field, it was a foul ball. This field's too big. After that I just told myself, 'Compete and stay focused.'"
Catcher Robinson Chirinos said of Arenado's homer: "It was stupid. He hit that ball that far inside and hit it outside the park. You can't do anything, just laugh, you know. It was a good pitch."
Perez threw a first-pitch changeup to Tulowitzki, intending it to be down. Instead, Perez got the pitch up and away, and Tulowitzki belted his ninth home run, an opposite-field drive that landed just inside the right-field foul pole.
"If I throw the ball down, maybe it was a foul ball," Perez said. "I know it was in Texas. But it was here; it's crazy."
Perez allowed four leadoff batters to reach base, and three scored, including Brandon Barnes, who opened the third with a double. The Rockies loaded the bases with no outs in that inning, and Carlos Gonzalez's groundout netted a run that put them ahead 3-0.
The Rangers didn't break through against Lyles until the sixth when Shin-Soo Choo led off with a double and took third when center fielder Drew Stubbs overran the ball. Choo scored on Josh Wilson's groundout.
Lyles then gave up a single to Adrian Beltre but got Prince Fielder to ground to shortstop Tulowitzki, who was shifted to the right of second and ran to the base to start a double play.
In six previous starts against the Rangers, his most against any club, Lyles had gone 0-5 with a 9.82 ERA. All those outings came while Lyles was with the Astros, including two last year that resulted in losses. The Rockies acquired Lyles and outfielder Barnes from the Astros in December for center fielder Dexter Fowler.
"The biggest thing is making better pitches when guys are in scoring position," said Lyles, who held the Rangers hitless in three such at-bats, each time ending an inning. "I don't know the numbers, but I can figure I wasn't too good in the past. That's the biggest key."
Opponents hit .321 against Lyles prior to this season with runners in scoring position. This year, they are hitting .208 (5-for-24) in such situations.
"He was mixing his pitches," Chirinos said. "His cutter was down in the strike zone. He's not the same guy we faced last year in Houston. Today, he was keeping the ball down and getting ground balls. Last time we faced him, he was throwing up in the strike zone and we got him pretty good."
Perez compiled a three-start scoreless streak that totaled 26 innings, a run of dominance that ended in his last start against the A's when he yielded eight hits and eight runs in 4 2/3 innings. Asked if he thought Perez rebounded well from his outing against the A's, Washington said, "He did. You got to understand where we are. The kid is going to have 30-something starts. He's going to have some starts that just don't go in his favor. But he's healthy, so got to keep running him out there."