Monday newsletter time: Martin Perez improbably saves the day as Rangers dodge sweep
(AP photo/Sam Hodde)
The Rangers were down four runs after five batters Sunday afternoon, and left-hander Martin Perez had given no indication for nearly a month that he was capable of stopping the Dodgers’ hot bats and giving the Rangers a chance to avoid a three-game sweep.
And, then, baseball happened.
Perez didn’t yield any more runs over the next five innings, including a scoreless third inning after the Dodgers put runners at second and third with no outs. The Rangers, meanwhile, had the lead by the second inning even though they played without Corey Seager (thumb) and Adolis Garcia (hand) on their way to an 8-4 victory.
All nine hitters in the starting lineup reached base, including the seldom-used Brad Miller and Josh Smith, and Jonah Heim and Leody Taveras had two-run doubles. Perez, though, was the difference.
“Because of him, we won that ballgame,” Bochy said.
Perez has pitched three times this month, all at home, and none of the outings has been great. But the Rangers did win two of the starts and nearly won the other, in part because of their knack for scoring runs when Perez starts.
But for five innings Perez made pitches and gave up mostly soft contact. He commanded the corners again.
His problems have stemmed from the timing in his mechanics. He picked the right time to find his timing, especially with the Rangers headed out on a six-game road trip after winning seven of their first nine games after the All-Star break.
While the Rangers went 7-2 on a homestand against three division leaders, the Astros went 6-3 on a road trip against the Angels (third place), Rockies (last place) and A’s (last place) and lost a game in the American League West ahead of a key head-to-head series that begins tonight in Houston.
The Rangers have a three-game West lead, but Minute Maid Park has been a problem for them the past four or five seasons. They did win the first series of the season there in April, however.
One interesting pitching decision might hang over this series. The Rangers will skip ace Nathan Eovaldi’s start, which was scheduled for tonight. Jon Gray will start the opener of the three-game series, and rookie Owen White is expected to start Tuesday before Andrew Heaney pitches the finale.
Eovaldi tossed six scoreless innings Tuesday against Tampa Bay, but his velocity was down a few miles per hour. Eovaldi has also already exceeded his 2022 innings total by 14 1/3 innings and didn’t have a true All-Star break as he was one of the six Rangers at the Midsummer Classic.
It’s probably the prudent thing to do, with the September stretch run in mind, but the timing for Eovaldi’s velocity dip stinks.
Rangers on the Grid
The Immaculate Grid included the Rangers twice last week, on Monday and again Saturday. The goal is to go as obscure as possible, and I thought I did a decent job both days.
My Monday answers are in the Wednesday newsletter. My Saturday answers are here. (I used Ron Washington on Sunday for the Twins-Orioles grid).
A few Twitter followers responded with a few rare gems, like Lucas Harrell for the Rangers-Braves grid and Armando Galarraga for the Rangers-Tigers grid.
The Grid can be found now on the Baseball-Reference homepage, and there’s also a football version. After doing it twice, there’s no doubt a baseball guy.
It’s a strange day when the Rangers don’t make a roster move, and they are in a stretch with their bullpen where a roster move a day isn’t possible. Perez might have helped the relievers and traveling secretary Josh Shelton catch their breath.
Actually, news and rumors will be rampant over the next week with the trade deadline coming. Don’t forget about the Tuesday deadline to sign draft picks. Rangers Today will cover it all and has been covering it. Here’s our latest content, in case you missed it.
Enviable energy on a Monday. Enjoy.
— Frenchi World Official (@F_bulldoglover) July 20, 2023
Jeff Wilson, email@example.com