As we discussed leading up to Wednesday night's series finale against the Los Angeles Angels, Texas Rangers rookie starter Martin Perez needed a good start on Wednesday, not only to help his team pull of a big three-game sweep over a division rival after coming off a sweep of their own in Cleveland. It was also big for the 22-year-old lefty to get back on the winning side of things and get some confidence back under his belt after a rough stretch.
Perez had a really solid run of four starts when he was 3-0 with a 1.44 ERA before hitting a rough patch over his previous three outings when he'd gone 0-2 with a 9.00 ERA. The Rangers were 0-3 in those three Perez starts. He'd averaged five innings per start in that stretch and has given up 21 hits in the 15 innings.
On Wednesday, Perez was back to being the efficient, good Perez, using a minimum amount of pitches to get through innings. He threw 95 pitches in 7 1/3 innings and allowed just a lone run on a solo homer from Josh Hamilton — a good pitch that a good hitter hit.
Perez attacked the Angels hitter early and often, pounding the strike zone and turning in two innings of fewer than 10 pitches. Perhaps most importantly, he held Angels all-star Mike Trout at bay, something no other Rangers pitcher was able to do in the series. Trout entered Wednesday's game with a 10-at-bat streak of reaching base successfully. He went 0-for-3 against Perez.
"Throw strikes," Perez told ESPN Dallas. "Throw fastballs. When he doesn't have a runner in scoring position, he doesn't swing at first pitch, so I attacked him early."