'I’ll win the game': Pérez earns trust, finishes shutout

Left-hander dedicates game to third-base coach, who marked 6 years of being cancer-free

May 21st, 2022

HOUSTON -- With two out in the bottom of the ninth inning on Friday at Minute Maid Park, Rangers manager Chris Woodward jogged out to the mound and told Martín Pérez: “You got this.”

Pérez had just allowed back-to-back singles, giving up his chances at the elusive Maddux.

But Pérez always wants the ball, in every situation.

And Pérez proved his manager right, getting Yuli Gurriel to fly out to left fielder Eli White to cap off a complete-game shutout over the Astros. The lefty needed 108 pitches, but he was able to power Texas to a 3-0 win over Houston.

“No, I wasn’t [worried Woodward would take me out],” Pérez said. “I told him, 'I got it. I’ll win the game.'”

“He deserved that opportunity,” Woodward said. “Those things don't happen very often, a complete-game shutout. Maybe all the analytics will tell you to take him out right there, but he's been so good for us. He's built up a ton of trust in a short amount of time with me. So I felt like I owed it to him. In an age of ‘Follow the numbers,’ I felt like you follow your gut on that one. It could be special, and he did it.”

Pérez’s outing meant even more knowing what this day meant to the Rangers’ clubhouse.

In 2016, third-base coach Tony Beasley was diagnosed with rectal cancer and missed the entire season. He’s been cancer free since ‘17. Before the game on Friday, he went in for his final scans and was officially declared six years cancer free.

Pérez was in the middle of his first stint with the Rangers when Beasley battled cancer, so he told his coach on Thursday that he would “do something special” when he pitched tonight.

Pérez gave Beasley the game ball and dedicated the win to him.

“I told him, ‘You're special [to] me and I'm gonna do this for you and for your family,’” Pérez said. “I'm just going to thank God for giving me a chance to go out there and perform tonight for him.  I've had a lot of coaches in my career. I can say he's one of the best, one of the top of my list. I'm proud to be here and to share with him these moments.”

“It's a bold statement to make against that [Astros] lineup,” Beasley said of Pérez’s promise. “I didn't think too much. It was nice to hear him say that. He went out and did his thing. I was just really happy to see him go out and compete. If I had anything to do with him getting through tonight against that lineup, then I'm grateful that I was able to be part of it.”  

Woodward added that everybody was aware of how special the day was from the very beginning, and Pérez sealed the deal.

Pérez struck out only five Astros hitters, but he induced 13 swings and misses and consistently induced soft contact to work quickly and efficiently through the lineup. 

It was the first complete game thrown by a Rangers pitcher since Kyle Gibson on Sept. 16, 2020, also against the Astros at Minute Maid Park. That was also the last time the Rangers won in Houston.  

It was Pérez’s fourth career complete game and his first since throwing them in back-to-back starts on April 18 against the White Sox and April 23 against the A’s in 2014.  

The last time Pérez faced the Astros on April 28, he tossed six perfect innings before allowing one hit and one run in the seventh. It wasn’t a perfect-game bid on Friday, but it was somehow even better.

Pérez seamlessly maneuvered through a powerful lineup as he’s done in every start all season, lowering his ERA to 1.64 (fourth best in MLB).   

"[Pérez] is unbelievable and is one of the best pitchers in baseball,” said Astros third baseman Alex Bregman. “He is super tough, and he throws five pitches to a bunch of different quadrants. He knows how to pitch and is really, really good. He has always been super tough on us, and you have to tip your hat to him. He pitched extremely well today -- got the ball on the ground a lot. He’s got really good stuff, is really smart and is a tough matchup for everybody."