It started the way Rangers games seem to be starting and ending lately, with a first-and-third, one-out, middle-of-the-lineup-due opportunity squandered and then, nine pitches into the bottom of the frame, a double and two productive outs, such an elusive concept of late, give the other guys a quick 1-0 lead.
What happened from that point forward was Lefty the Salesman opening his Muppet trench coat and asking (pssst) if he could interest you in a big batch of You Can’t Predict Ball.
Last year, on September 26, in Game 155, Martin Perez faced Oakland at home. His start lasted two outs, and his ledger was splattered with five runs on six hits, raising his ERA from 3.78 to 5.03 and narrowing the Rangers’ division lead over the A’s to three games with seven to go.
Five days later, in Game 160, Perez started in O.co Coliseum. He gave up two runs in the first and two more in the fifth, getting chased without getting an out in that inning, and Texas would lose, 4-3, sending relievers Scott Feldman, Michael Kirkman, Koji Uehara, and Roy Oswalt to the mound in a critical game that drew the A’s to within a game of the Rangers, with two regular season games to go.
Perez was left off the playoff roster for Game 163, even though, four days after throwing 69 pitches, he’d theoretically have been available to contribute an inning or two.
He wasn’t ready.
He wasn’t anything close to the same guy he is today.
Still, even though Perez has been really good the last five weeks, this was Oakland, whom the 22-year-old hadn’t faced since those two season-ending starts, and when the game started the way it did last night, well, you know.
And then he started busting the fastball inside and locating that filthy change down and away and he walked nobody and in fact had only one three-ball count until his final inning of work and he fanned five and every one of those five came with runners on base and four them came on swings and misses and a couple shutdown innings turned into a shutdown outing and six straight starts won is a franchise record for a rookie and the last four have come against Felix Hernandez, Chris Sale, Felix Hernandez, and Bartolo Colon, who will share space on a different list in two months, and he’s barely half Colon’s age and barely half Colon’s weight and was twice as good last night in front of 16,133 which is not a typo and there’s Jurickson making huge plays at shortstop and making big noise at the plate when he’s allowed to swing the bat and speaking of Profar in the field that heady diving-snare-and-throw-home to get Joshy “no more sliding” D seemed to shift momentum and speaking of Profar at the plate what if he’d gotten more of a chance to do that last September and October and that’s water under the bridge and water is for sharks and stuff and let’s focus on Profar and Perez and the Rangers in 2013 and that’s now 21 straight wins when the offense scores at least four which is not unrelated to the fact that the pitching staff has now allowed five or fewer runs in 31 straight baseball games which is staggering to think about and is one thing that distinguishes late 2013 from late 2012 and another one of those things is Martin Perez and now it’s Darvish Day and yyyyyyyyaaaaaaaaaRRRRRRRRRRR and mismatched socks and no tweets and respect the streak, especially the one My Favorite Martin is on, and pssst.
Can I interest you in some more of that?