MLB Team Report - Texas Rangers - INSIDE PITCH
A year ago, left-hander Martin Perez was as responsible as any single player for the September collapse that cost the Rangers the AL West.
This year, he could be the difference between the Rangers and Oakland A's.
The 22-year-old rookie, who was 0-3 with a 12.46 ERA in three September starts in 2012, takes a five-start winning streak into this September. And it's not like he has beaten a bunch of nobodies in the streak. The last three wins are over Felix Hernandez, Chris Sale and Hernandez again on Wednesday.
"He had mound presence, poise and maturity," manager Ron Washington said. "He's growing every time out."
It was his sixth consecutive start of at least six innings and his 10th overall this season. It was also his fifth consecutive win, making him the only Rangers rookie to win five consecutive starts. And it gave him eight wins for the season, tied with Tampa Bay's Chris Archer for most among AL rookies.
The thing is: Perez is not performing like a rookie.
"Last year, he was a good kid with a lot of talent and that was it," catcher Geovany Soto said. "This year, he's using that talent. He knows what he has to do. He knows what is expected of him and he's eliminated any thoughts that he doesn't belong."
Perez maintains that his big adjustment has been a relatively simple process. He has taken big steps to stop letting emotions get him out of rhythm and start rushing to the plate, thus impacting his command. Soto said Perez had "great tempo" on Wednesday.
"Every day I learn something up here," Perez said. "I know I've the opportunity to do some good things. If something starts to go too fast, I take a deep breath. It's easier for my mind to focus. It's easier to come up with a plan. I just concentrate on throwing strikes and not trying to make a perfect pitch."
Because of the fractured wrist he suffered in spring training, his innings total (131 between the majors and minors) is well below his total for 2012 (165). It means Perez may very well be able to escape the fatigue that often strikes rookies in September when they experience the longer season for the first time.
"I always tell him on the mound to look ahead and never look back," Soto said.
What's ahead currently looks pretty bright for the Rangers and Perez.
MLB Team Report - Texas Rangers - NOTES, QUOTES
STREAK: Won three
PAST 10 GAMES: 7-3
NEXT: Twins (Liam Hendriks, 0-2, 6.20) at Rangers (Yu Darvish, 12-5, 2.68)
--LHP Martin Perez became the first Texas rookie to win five games in a single month when he earned one in Wednesday's 12-4 victory at Seattle. Perez gave up two solo home runs but very little else over six innings of work. The 22-year-old Perez likely closed the book on his August with a 5-0 record and 3.06 ERA in five starts.
--3B Adrian Beltre drew first blood in his ongoing rivalry with friend Felix Hernandez. Beltre singled off the Seattle starter in the first inning of Wednesday's game, giving him 10 hits in 28 career at-bats against Hernandez (.357). Hernandez got a measure of revenge with a third-inning strikeout, and that was the last of the rivalry because Seattle summonsed reliever Brandon Maurer to replace Hernandez in the fourth. Beltre welcomed Maurer to the game by taking him deep for a two-run homer on the second pitch he saw. By the end of the game, Beltre had gone 3-for-5 to raise his season batting average to .329.
--CF Leonys Martin hit his first home run since July 30 and had a career-high four RBIs -- all before the end of the fourth inning Wednesday. Martin went 2-for-5 for the game after getting just one hit in 13 at-bats over the first five games of the road trip.
--2B Ian Kinsler arrived in Seattle earlier this week with a .271 batting average, and by Wednesday afternoon it was up to .279. Kinsler went 7-for-13 in the series, and during one stretch over Tuesday and Wednesday he had six hits in eight at-bats. Over his past 14 games, Kinsler is hitting .370 (20-for-54).
--C Geovany Soto got the Wednesday start to give veteran A.J. Pierzynski a day off, and he made the most of the opportunity with a pair of early hits. Soto singled in the second and third innings, the latter of which drove in a pair of runs while giving Texas a 5-0 lead. Soto went 2-for-4 Wednesday for his first multi-hit game since July 30.
--RHP Yu Darvish has yet to face the Twins this season, but he'll likely get his first shot at them Friday. Darvish is scheduled to start against Minnesota, a team he has faced only once in his career. In April 2012, during his second start as a major leaguer, Darvish scattered nine hits over 5 2/3 innings while allowing just one earned run in a 5-2 win. He has thrown 348 innings over 52 starts since then, but strangely none of them have come against the Twins.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "He's growing. You're watching it right in front of your eyes. You just need to watch it and enjoy it." -- Manager Ron Washington, on LHP Martin Perez, who became the first Texas rookie to win five games in a single month after Wednesday's 12-4 victory at Seattle.
MLB Team Report - Texas Rangers - ROSTER REPORT
--RHP Neftali Feliz (Tommy John surgery in August 2012) went on the 60-day disabled list March 24. He has started throwing off a mound in Arizona. Feliz threw his third bullpen session June 26. He was throwing bullpen sessions but not facing live hitters as of July 18. He threw live batting practice sessions at the club's spring training facility in Arizona as of July 28. He made his rehab assignment debut Aug. 2 in the rookie-level Arizona League. He pitched for Triple-A Round Rock on Aug. 8. He felt no discomfort in his arm after a bullpen session on Aug. 15. He threw an inning of relief for Round Rock on Aug. 19. He threw an inning Aug. 22 for Triple-A Round Rock in a rehab start, with his velocity reportedly ranging between 89 and 93 mph. He pitched Aug. 25. He pitched three innings on Aug. 28 and is expected to be activated when rosters can be expanded on Sept. 1.
--RHP Nick Tepesch (inflamed right elbow) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to July 6. He threw a 40-pitch bullpen session Aug. 19, then upped it to 60 pitches Aug. 21. He was sent to Double-A Frisco for a rehab assignment Aug. 27. He will pitch again Aug. 30 and could be activated on Sept. 1.
--RHP Alexi Ogando (nerve inflammation in right shoulder) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to Aug. 14. He is expected to throw a bullpen session for the Rangers at some point on their current road trip, which started Aug. 23. He is expected to pitch off a mound the weekend of Aug. 31-Sept. 1. He could pitch in a simulated game environment before the end of the week.
--RHP Matt West (Tommy John surgery in August 2012) was recalled from Class A Myrtle Beach and placed on the 60-day disabled list Aug. 20. He began a rehab assignment in the rookie-level Arizona League on Aug. 27.
--DH Lance Berkman (inflamed left hip) went on the 15-day disabled list July 7. He began a rehab assignment with Triple-A Round Rock on Aug. 10, then played for Double-A Frisco on Aug. 13-14. He is expected to be activated from the DL on Sept. 1.
--LHP Matt Harrison (lower-back soreness) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to April 7, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on May 25. He had surgery April 23 to repair a herniated disk. He underwent a second operation May 1. He began a rehab assignment July 31 with Double-A Frisco, then pitched for the same team Aug. 4. He left a rehab start on Aug. 9 after 63 pitches with some tingling in his fingers. He was declared out for the season Aug. 13 after doctors determined his back was not yet strong enough to allow him to pitch.
--RHP Colby Lewis (right flexor tendon surgery in July 2012) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 22, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on June 6. He began throwing live batting practice April 8, and he pitched in extended spring training May 4. He began a rehab assignment with Triple-A Round Rock on May 9, but his rehab was then shut down due to triceps soreness. Lewis began a new rehab assignment with Double-A Frisco on May 20, and he started for Round Rock on May 25. On May 28 the team shut him down due to muscular soreness in the back of his right elbow. He was given a platelet-rich-plasma injection. He threw a bullpen session June 17. He did some long-tossing June 25 in Arlington, then threw bullpen sessions in late June and early July. He threw live batting practice July 9. He started a rehab assignment on July 17, and he pitched in the minors through Aug. 3. On Aug. 6, he announced he would have season-ending surgery to remove bone spurs and resurface his right hip. The operation will be performed during the week of Aug. 19-25.
--LHP Michael Kirkman (recurrence of cutaneous lymphoma on right triceps) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to June 7, and he was transferred to the 60-day DL on June 12. The cancer, which will be treated with radiation sessions, was found during a routine screening in May by Rangers doctors. He was first diagnosed with skin cancer in the same area in January 2012.
LHP Derek Holland
LHP Martin Perez
RHP Yu Darvish
RHP Matt Garza
LHP Travis Blackley
RHP Joe Nathan (closer)
RHP Jason Frasor
LHP Robbie Ross
RHP Tanner Scheppers
LHP Neal Cotts
RHP Joakim Soria
RHP Ross Wolf
1B Mitch Moreland
2B Ian Kinsler
SS Elvis Andrus
3B Adrian Beltre
INF Jurickson Profar
INF Adam Rosales
LF David Murphy
CF Leonys Martin
RF Alex Rios
OF Jeff Baker
OF Craig Gentry