BOSTON – Martin Perez was up against it in every inning. But he was never not in control.
The Texas Rangers’ left-handed starter picked up his first win of the season, going 6 1/3 innings in a 10-7 win over the Boston Red Sox in the second game of a three-game series at Fenway Park Tuesday night.
It wasn’t perfect, as Perez surrendered eight hits and walked three. He allowed the leadoff hitter to reach in each of the seven innings he came out to toe the rubber.
The sheer defiance of common wisdom was staggering, however, as Perez also induced ground-ball double plays through five of those innings, including each of the first three innings, keeping the defending World Series champions frustrated.
For the third-year major leaguer and native of Venezuela, Tuesday’s win was a result of committing to the plan laid out.
“I’m not a power pitcher, I’m a ground-ball pitcher,” Perez said.
He added: “When you throw good pitches down in the zone, that’s what happens.”
It was a big night for Perez’s battery mate, countryman and friend Robinson Chirinos as well. The journeyman catcher, who broke camp and made his first Opening Day roster with the Rangers this season, sparked the Rangers’ assault with his leadoff home run –- just the second of his career and first since 2011 -– in their five-run, third-inning explosion.
“He’s my boy and I’m happy for him,” Perez said, smiling.
Meanwhile, Chirinos, who made his third start of the season behind the plate, reflected in admiration of Perez’s resiliency in the light of perpetually being placed behind the 8-ball with instant traffic on the base paths.
“He was matching pitches, he was competing, keeping the ball down in the strike zone and you had those five double plays today,” Chirinos said.
Yet, even Chirinos was amazed by the consistency (and yet the lack thereof?) in Perez’s performance.
The Red Sox fell one shy of tying their team record of six GIDPs, which happened three times during the 1990 season.
“For a couple innings, it was the same and I was telling him in the dugout to try to get the first guy out, but they’d keep walking or get a hit,” Chirinos said. “But he was battling and competing and keeping us close [on] the scoreboard and we won the game.”
Perez summed up the plan simply, saying, “When you’ve got conviction and you throw good pitches, this will happen.”