ARLINGTON — The chances of the Texas Rangers finishing tied with Cleveland for the second wild-card spot and being forced into a tiebreaker Monday seem more likely than them winning a spot outright.The way the Indians are playing, and judging by the caliber of their season-ending opponent, even a play-in game seems unlikely. But if the Rangers can force one, Martin Perez would be their starting pitcher.That’s a tight spot for a rookie, but manager Ron Washington said Thursday that his confidence in the left-hander would be high in that situation.“It’s another challenge and experience for him to get,” Washington said. “He deserves it just like every other starter deserves it. In the position we’re in if we play this out and we end up having that opportunity, we can’t finagle anything. We can’t move anything around, so it’s going to stay the way it is.”Perez won his 10th game Wednesday, allowing three runs in seven innings to beat Houston. He started against the Indians in July, and turned in his worst start of the season.Cleveland tagged him for seven runs (six earned) in only three innings in a game the Rangers lost 11-8 in extra innings. However, Washington contends that Perez continues to mature and has learned how to control himself on the mound.“His emotions are not as vivid anymore,” Washington said. “He’s able to check himself and get back into control. Each time he takes the baseball it’s an experience.”An occasional reminder is needed, and Washington had to deliver it during a mound meeting in the fifth inning Wednesday after Perez quickly got the first two outs but issued a walk.Perez listened, and was out of the inning two pitches later.“We have to remind him every now and then, but that’s OK,” Washington said. “I was just reminding him that he got two quick outs. “There was no need to change anything. All of the sudden, being a young kid, he wanted to hurry up and get that last out.”Eyes forwardNeed to know the score of the Tampa Bay or Cleveland game? Ask A.J. Pierzynski, who can see the out-of-town scoreboard just about wherever he goes on the baseball field.As a catcher, he sees it in left field. As a left-handed hitter, he looks at it. When he is the designated hitter, he stares at it from the dugout.“I see it all the time,” he said.But the focus isn’t on what is happening with the teams the Rangers are chasing, even though the Rangers need them to stumble. The Rangers are trying to stay focused on what they can control.“If we don’t win our game, it doesn’t matter what happens anywhere else,” Pierzynski said. “We just have to find a way to win our game.” It’s been the same story all week for the Rangers, who entered Thursday on a three-game winning streak and believing they needed to make it a seven-game winning streak to have a chance at the postseason.“We have to keep winning, that’s for sure,” Ron Washington said.Error, center fieldThe home run that Brandon Laird hit in the third inning Wednesday actually glanced off the glove of center fielder Leonys Martin, who sat briefly on the warning track after just coming up empty.“When he sat on the ground, he knew he didn’t have it,” Ron Washington said. “When you make a catch like that, you’re not sitting down on the ground.”Four-time Gold Glove winner Adrian Beltre, also a two-time Platinum Glove winner, thought the official scorer had been a little too kind on Martin.“Error,” Beltre said.Martin atoned with a three-run double in the bottom half to give the Rangers a 4-3 lead.
Jeff Wilson, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @JeffWilson