Martin Perez had been warned that Coors Field is a hitter’s paradise.
The air isn’t as thick at a mile above sea level as it is everywhere else in the major leagues, and the relative humidity often hovers in single digits.
But Perez also said that the thin, dry air was not an excuse for his performance Monday against the hot-hitting Colorado Rockies, nor was the enormous outfield that allows for more fair balls down the lines.
When it was over, though, and the Texas Rangers had lost 8-2, Perez was amazed that two of his pitches were hit for home runs. The belief on the third Rockies homer, off Shawn Tolleson, is that it hits off all other 29 right-field walls.
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“Those balls in Texas are outs,” said Perez, who allowed five runs in five innings. “But it was out here, and that’s crazy.”
Troy Tulowitzki, the hottest hitter in baseball, hit two homers, the second one off Perez on an elevated changeup that floated into the first row near the right-field corner and the one off Tolleson that had Alex Rios thinking catch all the way until he ran into the wall.
Tulowitzki was named the National League Player of the Month for April and the NL Player of the Week earlier Monday.
Nolan Arenado turned on a pitch well off the plate inside to extend his hitting streak to 25 games with a second-inning homer that stayed fair down the left-field line.
All three were two-run homers.
“Tulowitzki hit a changeup, and I don’t know how the ball went out,” Perez said. “The first homer, I threw a fastball, I saw the video, and I just said, ‘Wow.’ But that’s part of the game. That’s not an excuse.”
Perez said that if his pitch to Tulowitzki had been down, it likely would have been foul. If he had been hit elsewhere, Rios catches it. The pitch Arenado hits is a foul ball anywhere else.
Perez (4-2) has seen his ERA climb to 3.59 in the past two starts after opening the season 4-0 with a 1.42 ERA. But manager Ron Washington and Robinson Chirinos said that Perez looked more like the pitcher he was in his first four starts before allowing eight runs in 4 2/3 innings last week to Oakland.
“On video, he made good pitches,” Chirinos said. “I think if we’re in a different ballpark, he throws scoreless innings.”
The altitude might have also been a factor on two flyballs that went for doubles and turned into runs.
Rios also was fooled by a Drew Stubbs double that came just before Tulowitzki’s first homer, and center fielder Martin Perez misplayed a Brandon Barnes flyball to open the third that led to the Rockies’ third run.
“I would think that the time we had in practice was enough to judge that,” Washington said. “To me, that’s an excuse.”
The Rangers, though, couldn’t find much success against Jordan Lyles, who pitched into the ninth inning.
They finally scored in the sixth, after Shin-Soo Choo led off with a double and went to third on an error. Josh Wilson followed with a groundout to make it 5-1.
Wilson, batting second with Elvis Andrus at the bottom of the order, couldn’t deliver in two tries with runners in scoring position. Lyles struck Wilson out in the third with runners at second and third in a 2-0 game, and he bounced into a double play with runners at the corners in the eighth.
Mitch Moreland added a pinch-hit RBI single in the ninth after Lyles (4-0) had been removed following a leadoff single by Adrian Beltre.
Manager Ron Washington said before the game that he likes having a player who can bunt and hit-and-run in the No. 2 hole. Washington said that he preferred to leave Rios, who entered batting .328, in the fifth spot because that’s where he’s most comfortable.