NEW YORK -- Starter Martin Perez let his frustration show for just a moment after a 7-2 loss to the Yankees on Sunday afternoon at Yankee Stadium.
"Unbelievable," Perez said. "I got 16 ground balls, and they had five infield hits."
There was more to the loss than just ground balls that found holes or ended up as hits. But it was still frustrating, as Perez was able to hold his own against Yankees left-hander Carsten Sabathia for four innings before it all changed in the fifth.
That's when the Yankees broke open the game with a five-run inning on their way to taking three out of four in the weekend series in the Bronx. The Rangers managed just one hit in six innings off Sabathia, and that came in the second inning, when Joey Gallo beat out a roller in front of home plate. Sabathia struck out seven and walked three and is now 7-4 with a 3.32 ERA on the season.
So what was Sabathia doing that Perez wasn't?
"Strikes down in the strike zone, strikes in the top of the zone," manager Jeff Banister said. "And he mixes well, reads the [batter] well. He was able to pitch in today on our hitters, really stingy on the edges. But I think it was his ability to throw down in the strike zone; [he] didn't really give up a whole lot in the air."
That's what Perez has to do with his sinker and his changeup. He averages 5.46 strikeouts per nine innings, which would be the second lowest in the American League (next to Bartolo Colon) if he had enough innings to qualify.
So he has to keep hitters on the ground, and that didn't happen in the fifth inning, a rally that ended with a two-run home run by Didi Gregorius.
"I just threw a couple of pitches up, and they got hit," Perez said. "I just need to get the ball down. When I get the ball down, I do good. In the four innings, I was down, and everything was good. As soon as I started to leave the ball up, that's when they started hitting."
Perez, who allowed two more hits and another run in the sixth, is now 2-5 with a 6.71 ERA after 11 starts in a season that got off to a rough start because of winter surgery on his right elbow and was disrupted for six weeks while he was on the disabled list.
"More than anything else, Martin has been good up to this game, and there were parts of this game I thought were really good," Banister said. "He started out throwing well inside to open up the outside, little bit of a challenge in the fifth to get in on their hitters. They really didn't give him an opportunity. They jumped on some pitches early going the other way."
Perez is 0-2 with a 4.84 ERA in six starts since being activated off the DL on July 14 as the Rangers try to decide if they will pick up a $7.5 million option for next season.
The Rangers faced a similar decision last season, and there was considerable doubt in early August, when Perez was 5-10 was a 5.46 ERA after 21 starts. But he finished strong, going 8-2 with a 3.71 ERA in his last 11 outings, and the Rangers picked up his $6 million option.
This is Perez's sixth season in the big leagues, and the Rangers still feel he has more upside.
"It all starts with consistency, from outing to outing and inning to inning," Banister said. "The ability to get the outs. He definitely has the set of pitches to get that consistency."
MOMENT THAT MATTERED
The Rangers had plenty of baserunners and chances to do some damage against Sabathia and the Yankees' bullpen, but went 3-for-14 with runners in scoring position. They had the bases loaded with two out in the eighth, but reliever Jonathan Holder struck out Isiah Kiner-Falefa to escape trouble.
Rougned Odor walked twice, giving him 33 walks on the season, a career high. He has 13 walks in his last 18 games.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Gallo was back in left field and made a terrific catch in the eighth, going back to the wall to steal a home run from Austin Romine.
"Late in the game, the ball started dying a little bit. So when he hit it ... I started running back, looked at the wall and the ball and was like, 'I might as well go up. Why not?' and it happened to land in my glove," Gallo said. "It was the first one I've ever robbed, so I was pretty excited."
HE SAID IT
"Just go out and have fun, do what I do. I know I can play. I know I can hit, I know I can play defense. I know I can do these things. I just have to go out there and simplify it and just do it. Initially, I didn't think I needed to be unplugged. Mentally, I'm good. I'm confident. I've never strayed away from that." -- Delino DeShields, on his first game back off the DL
MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
DeShields drove in a run in the seventh when he beat out a slow bouncer to Gregorius, bringing home Gallo from third. The Yankees challenged the call, and replays suggested that they had a winning argument, but the call stood after a review.
Colon will be on the mound when the Rangers open a two-game series with the D-backs at 7:05 p.m. CT Monday at Globe Life Park. This will be the second time in three starts that Colon has faced the D-backs. He allowed five runs in five innings in a 6-0 loss on July 31. He won his last start, allowing four runs in seven innings in an 11-4 victory over the Mariners last Tuesday. Right-hander Zack Greinke will pitch for Arizona.