ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 26: Martin Perez #33 of the Texas Rangers throws against the Oakland Athletics at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on September 26, 2012 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
As a young boy growing up in Venezuela with aspirations of being a big-league pitcher, it only seems natural that Martin Perez would've looked up to Felix Hernandez, or "King Felix" as he's known around baseball.
And Perez most definitely did.
A couple of weekends ago, he stepped on the same mound as Hernandez in a matchup between the two countrymen, one entrenched as one of the game's top pitchers and the other an up-and-coming rookie who seems to mature more every time out.
On that night, Perez got the best of the older, more accomplished Hernandez, and on Wednesday afternoon he'll look to do it again and earn a series sweep for his Texas Rangers.
Hernandez has traditionally been rocked by the Rangers in Arlington, but fares much better at Safeco Field, and Perez has been great since coming up from Triple-A Round Rock on June 22.
In that recent game, the Rangers rocked Hernandez over five innings for five hits, five walks and five runs in a 15-3 win. Perez gave up eight hits and three runs over seven innings in that game.
Hernandez's splits against Texas in Seattle are much better than they are in Arlington, but it's still nothing too impressive for a pitcher of his caliber as he's 7-10 with a 3.52 ERA in 20 career starts against Texas in Seattle. But this year, he's 0-2 with a 5.84 ERA in games against the Rangers at Safeco.
After overcoming a bad second inning in Friday's win over the White Sox to go seven innings and win 11-5, Perez had a maturation moment. Another win against his idol to secure a series sweep and ensure at least a 2 1/2-game lead in the West would be another.