Martin Perez flirts with perfect game, but it’s still not enough to lift Rangers
(AP photo/Tony Gutierrez)
If only Martin Perez could have been perfect longer.
The Texas Rangers have next to no margin for error, and they might have none against postseason contenders.
They must do everything well to win, and when they don’t they find a way to lose.
Perez was perfect through six innings Thursday afternoon at Globe Life Field before yielding a run in the seventh. Matt Bush made one lousy pitch in the eighth, missing his spot by several feet, and that was the difference in a 3-2 loss to the Houston Astros to close out the four-game series.
The Rangers won only once, Monday in the opener. They were non-competitive Tuesday, manager Chris Woodward said, and one mistake was devastating in losses Wednesday and Thursday.
“It’s the story of the season right now,” Woodward said. “We have to find a way to win and not find a way to lose.”
Perez was terrific as he retired the first 18 batters he faced. He worked quickly and efficiently, forced the Astros to put the ball in play, and was regularly ahead in the count. Chas McCormick opened the seventh with a double on a 3-2 pitch after Perez had fallen behind 3-1.
Yordan Alvarez singled three batters later as the Astros scored the game’s first run.
The Rangers got it back in their half against future Hall of Famer Justin Verlander. It took three singles and a sacrifice fly, but the score was 1-1 when Woodward went to the bullpen.
Perez was going to pitch the eighth in all reasonable scenarios except the one that unfolded — a long inning that gave the Rangers pause about making him go back out.
Bush was the choice. He hit rookie shortstop Jeremy Pena with one out, and Kyle Tucker came off the bench to launch a two-run homer on a hanging slider that Bush said he wanted to bounce at home plate.
“It was a good pitch for someone to hit a home run,” Bush said.
Corey Seager connected for a solo home run in the ninth, but former Rangers reliever Rafael Montero recovered for the save. The Rangers had only five hits, and Seager had two of them.
Jeff Wilson, firstname.lastname@example.org