ST. LOUIS -- Rangers starter Martin Perez takes a five-game winning streak into Sunday's finale against the Cardinals. His surge of late suggests Perez has benefited greatly from his determination to learn as much as he can from veteran starters Cole Hamels and Colby Lewis."He's got two of the best
ST. LOUIS -- Rangers starter Martin Perez takes a five-game winning streak into Sunday's finale against the Cardinals. His surge of late suggests Perez has benefited greatly from his determination to learn as much as he can from veteran starters Cole Hamels and Colby Lewis.
"He's got two of the best teachers in the game," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "He can watch them every time they go out and pitch ... how they control the situation and pitch with aggression, but with a calm demeanor. That in itself is a benefit.
"Then there is the routine both of them go through on a daily basis, and how diligent they are is another factor. I believe it has been as big a factor for Martin as any mechanical part. The deal is he still has to be himself, but if you watch his games, you can see he has been able to take away things from them."
As of Saturday morning, the Rangers had three starters in the top 13 in ERA in the American League. Lewis (6-0), ranked fifth with a 2.81 ERA, Hamels (7-1) was seventh at 2.88 and Perez (6-4) was 13th at 3.38.
"Watching them has helped me to learn," Perez said. "I'm still young, and they have more years than me. They show me when they pitch what I can do. I try to follow what they do and how they do their job."
One of the things Hamels talks about is not letting one bad game get you down, instead staying focused on what's ahead of you. Perez also learned not to let it bother him early in the season when he wasn't getting any run support.
"Just trust your stuff and stay focused," Perez said. "You're not going to have a good game every time out. Sometimes you are going to have a bad game. They can't all be good.
"Like last year, when I gave up runs in the first or second innings, I got mad. Now I know if I give up one or two runs early, I've still got to keep the game close because we are going to score runs."
Matuella has strong debut
Right-handed pitcher Mike Matuella, a third-round pick out of Duke in 2015, made his professional debut on Friday night for Class A Spokane in the Northwest League.
Matuella pitched three scoreless innings, allowing a hit and two walks while striking out one. He threw 55 pitches in his first start since missing 14 months because of Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery.
The Rangers were able to get Matuella in the third round because of the surgery. Otherwise, he might have been a top 5 pick.
"He is in the phase were his fastball is coming out of his hand really well but still lacks the consistency aspect for feel to repeat his delivery," Minor League pitching coordinator Danny Clark said. "Overall looking forward to seeing him, he has all the intangibles you look for in a top of the rotation type pitcher."
• Hamels, with a win on Friday night, is 5-0 with a 1.64 ERA in seven road starts. That's the fifth-lowest road ERA in the American League. Lewis is first, having gone 4-0 with a 1.29 ERA in his first seven road starts.
• A.J. Griffin, on the disabled list because of inflammation in his right shoulder, is scheduled to throw 75 pitches for Double-A Round Rock against Corpus Christi on Sunday. It will be his third start on medical rehab assignment. Pitching coach Doug Brocail said the next step could depend on the need at the Major League level.
• Pitcher Yu Darvish, on the disabled list with tightness in his right shoulder, played catch with Brocail on Saturday. He'll have two long-toss sessions on Sunday and Monday and then will be re-evaluated to see if he's ready to pitch off a mound.
T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.