Rangers notes: Confidence high in rookie Martin Perez for Game 163

Posted Sunday, Sep. 29, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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Nobody in the Texas Rangers’ clubhouse voiced questions or concerns about having a rookie start the most important game of the season. They have all seen Martin Perez develop before their eyes and feel the talented left-hander is ready for the magnitude of Monday’s tiebreaking game against the Tampa Bay Rays.

As expected, the Rangers named Perez the starter after Sunday’s victory over the Angels, and the 22-year-old is excited about the opportunity to pitch in a do-or-die game for the second wild card in the American League.

“I feel comfortable because they trust me,” said Perez, who has not faced the Rays this season. “I’m excited, but I don’t want to put pressure on myself. It’s just another game and I’ll focus on what I have to do and throw strikes.”

The veterans in the Rangers’ clubhouse feel comfortable with Perez on the mound. He has gotten better throughout the season, which included a six-game winning streak in August and September.

“He came to the big leagues this year and looked like a different guy,” third baseman Adrian Beltre said. “A guy who wants to be here, a guy who is learning every time out. You couldn’t ask for a better development from last year to this year.”

Said closer Joe Nathan: “I don’t see him going out and changing anything. He knows and has learned a lot in the two years he’s been here to stay within himself. What he brings to the table is more than enough to get big-league hitters out.”

All is well

Adrian Beltre felt he had “one bullet left” in the sixth inning and used it to try and steal second. After singling with two outs, Beltre felt getting into scoring position would give them the best chance to score.

But he ended up tweaking his left hamstring in the process and wasn’t even credited with a stolen base since A.J. Pierzynski singled on the play. Beltre, who has monitored his hamstring most of the season, brushed off any concerns about his hamstring going forward.

“It’s good enough,” he said. “I was going too fast, that’s what happened. Nothing new. Same old injury.”

Said manager Ron Washington: “I don’t think that’s the first time you’ve seen Adrian gimpy.”

Starter Yu Darvish also dismissed injury concerns. Washington, pitching coach Mike Maddux, a team trainer and his translator visited him during the second inning, but apparently it was unnecessary.

“Frankly speaking, I didn’t know why they came out,” Darvish said. “I was fine.”

Bullpen matters

Joe Nathan and Tanner Scheppers have pitched in four consecutive games, but both intend to pitch if needed Monday.

Nathan has said in the past that five consecutive games is his maximum and Monday would get him there, but he said those stipulations are not relevant at this point. After all, it’s a one-game season right now.

“We’ve been throwing quite a bit, but adrenaline is a very good drug and we’ll continue to ride it,” Nathan said.

The bullpen, which has been a strength all season, has also gotten a jolt from Robbie Ross returning to his early-season form. Ross went through a rough stretch to start the second half, but has not allowed a run in his last six outings.

Ross worked around a leadoff single in a scoreless seventh Sunday.

“Right now, it’s been better,” Ross said. “I wasn’t doing well, it wasn’t going right, and so I really couldn’t be upset [not pitching as often].”

Hamilton’s nod

Josh Hamilton finished his first season with the Angels in front of his former home crowd. And, as they’ve done all year, the Rangers fans serenaded their former slugger with boos throughout the series and chants such as “Baseball Town,” a reference to his comments made during spring training about Dallas-Fort Worth being a football town.

Hamilton flew out to center in his final at-bat in the ninth inning and tipped his helmet toward the crowd despite a heavy amount of boos.

“That was just to let them know no matter how bad they boo me or bring up things from my past, I still love them,” Hamilton said. “There was nothing sarcastic about it.”

Drew Davison, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @drewdavison

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