Wednesday newsletter time: Best month by a pitcher in Rangers history? Martin Perez just completed it
(AP photo/Tony Gutierrez)
ARLINGTON — Not Nolan Ryan, Ferguson Jenkins, Gaylord Perry, Bert Blyleven or any other All-Star who has ever pitched for the Rangers did what Martin Perez did in May.
He closed out the best month by any pitcher in Rangers history Tuesday night.
The left-hander overcame a scare in the second inning, when he was drilled in the right shin by a line drive, to toss seven scoreless innings and lift the Rangers to the .500 mark with a 3-0 victory.
Perez retired the final 16 batters he faced, all after getting hit on a Taylor Walls line drive that went down as the Rays’ third hit. It was their last hit as Perez, John King and Joe Barlow retired the final 22 hitters.
The liner off the leg just seemed to make Perez mad. He said the leg won’t be an issue going forward.
“As soon as I got hit, I was like, ‘I got this,'” he said. “The line drive brought me to a different level.”
Perez worked quickly and efficiently the rest of the way, making an adjustment to go inside as Rays hitters were looking at the outer half. Manager Chris Woodward said that he and Perez agreed that seven innings was enough, even though he was at only 85 pitches, based on the overall workload this month.
Perez dropped his ERA to an MLB-leading 1.42. He now holds the club record for the most consecutive starts with at least six innings pitched and one or fewer runs allowed, breaking a tie with Hall of Famer Gaylor Perry in 1975.
He started six games in May, and the Rangers won them all. He posted a 4-0 record with a 0.64 ERA, 33 strikeouts and nine walks in 42 1/3 innings. Included was an eight-hit shutout May 20 at Houston.
Right-hander Yovani Gallardo posted a 0.54 ERA in June 2015, but in only five starts and 33 1/3 innings.
The 0.64 May ERA is the lowest by an American League pitcher with at least 40 innings in a month since Johan Santana posted a 0.45 ERA in September 2004 for Minnesota.
Santana won the Cy Young Award that season.
Perez still has at least 20 starts remaining this season if all goes well, so any Cy Young talk is wildly premature. But the All-Star Game seems like a good bet, and being selected the AL Pitcher of the Month for May is a lock.
“I don’t even know what else to say about the guy,” manager Chris Woodward said.
.500 and climbing?
Not only have the Rangers climbed back to .500 after a 2-9 start to the season, they believe they are a playoff team.
They have a mere 114 games remaining to stay in the hunt.
“When we get over .500 it will be a weight off our shoulders,” Woodward said. “But we have to sustain it.”
The Rangers finished May with a 17-10 record. They hadn’t been at .500 since May 9 last season.
Corey Seager hit a solo homer to start the fourth, and Adolis Garcia followed with a two-run shot three batters later to supply the offense.
Seager said that the team shouldn’t look at reaching .500 but that they are playing well since their dreadful start.
The turnaround started after they fell behind 5-0 in the first inning April 21 at Seattle but rallied for an 8-6 win.
“I think you think about that we’re playing really good baseball,” Seager said. “We’re starting to jell together, we’re starting to figure out who we are and how we play, and it’s starting to come together for sure.”
Mental health awareness
Before the game, the Rangers and Rays brought attention to Mental Health Awareness Month by recognizing former Rays bullpen catcher Jean Ramirez, the former Saginaw Boswell High School player who took his own life during the offseason.
Ramirez’s family was introduced on the field, and proceeds from the Texas 2 Split 50/50 raffle were to be donated to Ramirez’s favorite charity, Keeper of the Game.
Players from both teams wore green ribbons for mental health awareness, and the Rays have worn green ribbons and JR stickers on their helmets. The Rays opened the month with a $5,000 donation to Keepers of the Game.
I wrote a story on Ramirez for my former employer during the 2020 World Series, which was played a Globe Life Field. Ramirez couldn’t have been nice during the interview, and he was so excited to get the chance at a ring in his hometown.
The number for National Suicide Prevention is 800-273-8255. If you need help or you think you know someone who does, call that number.
Heaven on earth to many dogs, including one of mine. Enjoy. See you Thursday.
— Heckin Good Dogs (@HeckinGoodDogs) May 31, 2022
Jeff Wilson, email@example.com