Robinson Chirinos produced the best game of his career Friday night, collecting three hits, a home run, two RBIs and catching a shutout.
His effort wasn’t the best by a Texas Rangers player — it might have been third — and it wasn’t even the best by a player from his country.
But this isn’t up for debate: The Rangers have struck on something with the all-Venezuelan battery combination of Martin Perez and Chirinos, and it clicked again in the opener of a three-game series against the Chicago White Sox.
Perez (3-0) threw the first shutout of his career, a three-hitter, and Chirinos went 3 for 5 with a two-run homer in the offense’s best night of the season to help lead the Rangers to an easy 12-0 victory.
Perez said that he and Chirinos shared equally in the win, but Chirinos and a third Venezuelan, shortstop Elvis Andrus, bowed to the starting pitcher, who has worked 17 consecutive scoreless innings.
“He was fun to catch and fun to watch,” Chirinos said. “He’s executing every pitch. He’s going to have nights like tonight when he’s throwing down in the strike zone with all of his pitches. He’s been attacking and competing from Day One.”
Leonys Martin went 3 for 5 with a homer and four RBIs, finishing a double shy of hitting for the cycle, and Jim Adduci and Alex Rios also collected three hits apiece as the Rangers had a season-high 18 hits.
A seven-run third, which included Chirinos’ team-leading second homer of the season, made life easier on Perez (3-0, 1.86 ERA).
It was the highest-scoring inning in the majors this season and the Rangers’ biggest frame since posting an 11-spot against Houston in August.
“I just saw 0-0,” Perez said. “You can’t say, ‘OK, I’ve got this game.’ You have to continue to pitch and attack the hitters.”
Perez retired the final 12 batters he faced, and capped the Rangers’ baseball-leading fifth shutout of the season with a strikeout of Dayan Viciedo.
Perez struck out eight, walked one and allowed only one runner to get as far as second base.
He gave a big chunk of the credit to Chirinos, who has caught Perez in all four of his 2014 starts. The key has been communication.
“He called a good game, and I worked with him in that moment,” Perez said. “We talk so much before the games and every day we talk about games. When you have good communication with the catcher, it’s good for you.”
The Rangers started early against Felipe Paulino, loading the bases with one out in the first after Andrus walked, Rios singled and Prince Fielder was intentionally walked.
Kevin Kouzmanoff, who entered as the Rangers’ hottest hitter, reached on an infield single that scored Andrus for a 1-0 lead. Adduci, making his first start of the season, followed with a groundout that plated Rios.
Paulino stranded runners at second and third in the second, and faced the same situation in the third. This time, though, Martin delivered a triple to jump-start a seven-run two-out rally.
Chirinos followed with his homer on the next pitch, and the next four Rangers reached. Three of them scored, the final tally coming on a double by Fielder for a 9-0 lead.
Martin pushed the Rangers into double digits with a line shot into the right-field seats, again with two outs and again off Paulino, who allowed 10 runs on 13 hits in 3 2/3 innings.
The Rangers scored in double figures for the third time this season.
“I wish I could see this every night, but I know that isn’t possible,” manager Ron Washington said. “We’re just grinding out at-bats, having good at-bats throughout the lineup, and that’s what it’s going to take.”