Ever the ideal starter, Pérez turns in 7 strong

Lefty’s one-run effort goes for naught as Rangers shut out by Astros

September 6th, 2022

HOUSTON -- Since taking over as interim manager, Tony Beasley has kept most things the status quo. The lineup is similar, the rotation has stayed mostly the same barring injuries, and bullpen roles have remained intact.

But one thing Beasley wanted to change was the expectation of starting pitchers. "Five-and-dive" is not anywhere in Beasley’s vocabulary.

“I don't like to use other teams as a model for who we are, but ... we’ve got to develop and train our starters mentally and physically to be workhorses,” Beasley said during the last homestand. “All the teams that are successful, [its] starters are putting in work. And then the bullpen is finishing it off. We have some work to do in that area. We know that, but it starts with our mindset. We have to start expecting more.

“The industry has kind of made two times through the order and not facing it a third time [a norm]. And everyone's buying into it. But to me, those things are crutches. And that's a cop-out. You should not enter a game with the expectation of, ‘Oh, I'm going to give the team five [innings], and then I'm good.’ That's not conducive to winning over the long haul.”

Rangers lefty Martín Pérez has been the epitome of the ideal starting pitcher that Beasley describes.

In Monday’s 1-0 loss to the Astros, Pérez delivered seven strong innings of one-run ball, tossing 103 pitches to put the Rangers in a position to win. Though Texas ultimately came up short and extended its losing streak to a season-high nine games, Pérez turned in his 19th quality start of the season.

“He had like, six innings and 92 pitches, and I just asked him if he wanted to go back out,” Beasley said. “I just asked him how he felt out of the sixth and he said, ‘I want to go back. I want one more.’ So, he was up for it. ... That's what you want starters to do. He did what he was supposed to do: attack the zone and pitch to keep them off balance. He was able to get what he needed, when he needed it. It was outstanding. I love it. That's what starters do -- take the ball and get deep in the game.”

Pérez is the oldest starter on the Rangers’ staff, but he’s proven to be an above-average workhorse pitcher, even in his age-31 season.

There hasn’t been much good to talk about with the Rangers in recent weeks, but as with most of the season, the lone bright spot has been Pérez, who time and time again has put together quality starts for Texas this season.

Specifically, his effectiveness against the Astros has been a point of emphasis for a club that has often struggled against the American League leaders.

Pérez excelled in his first two starts against Houston this season, posting a 0.56 ERA over 16 innings, including a shutout on May 20. He stumbled in two starts following the All-Star break, posting a 10.80 ERA over 10 innings against the club.

In his final matchup against Houston on Monday, he readjusted his game plan and limited Astros hitters to just one run on six hits and one walk in seven innings. 

“I was just trying to go out there and have fun first,” Pérez said. “Just trying to not let them beat me again. I was able to throw everything that I wanted. [In the two rough starts against the Astros], I was trying to do too much. When you attack the hitters, they’re going to swing. When you get ahead, it’s a problem. When you attack early, the only choice they have is to swing. I think that’s what happened tonight. I did a good job, I think.”

Despite Pérez's strong performance on the mound, the Rangers’ offense struggled, getting shut out for the first time since June 8 against the Guardians. The Astros’ staff was led by their top prospect, Hunter Brown, who made his MLB debut and notched his first career win by holding Texas to just three hits.

“Brown did a nice job,” Beasley said. “Most of the guys haven't faced him. You have to give him credit. He had a live fastball and a nice little breaking ball, and he attacked. He forced us into contact. He walked one guy. He just attacked the zone and did what you expect a pitcher to do. So just tip the hat. ... We didn’t really create many scoring opportunities tonight.”