Martin Perez didn’t have an envious job Saturday, pitching a night after Yu Darvish came up an out shy of a no-hitter.
The Texas Rangers won the game on Friday, but the clubhouse had a bittersweet vibe to it afterward as Darvish had come up short of perfection once again.
Perez had the unfortunate task of following that act and flopped. He struggled for a third consecutive start, failing to get through the fourth as the Boston Red Sox pulled away for an 8-3 victory Saturday night over the Rangers.
Perez and manager Ron Washington brushed off any suggestion that Perez’s poor outing was somehow tied to what happened with Darvish the night before.
Instead, they said, Perez simply didn’t find his stride.
“Too many balls,” Perez said. “I was trying to overthrow, and with two strikes, the pitches stayed up. In that situation, you have to throw the ball down, especially the breaking pitch.”
Perez has been prone to overthrowing in the past, and it’s something he knows he has to overcome. He grew upset during this game, though, and couldn’t keep his emotions in check.
“When I get mad, I lose my mind,” Perez said. “You have to focus pitch by pitch. I can’t do that [overthrowing] anymore. I have to stay focused pitch by pitch.”
The two-strike issues were just as troubling.
Perez had a chance to bail himself out with two outs in the second inning after loading the bases with a hit by pitch and walk. He had Shane Victorino down 0-2 but left a 1-2 changeup up over the plate that Victorino lined to center to score a run.
But Perez got out of the inning when Leonys Martin threw out Jackie Bradley Jr. at the plate. Perez gave up a solo homer to David Ortiz to start the third but got out of it by retiring three straight after a walk to Mike Napoli.
“In the third, it looked like he found some rhythm there where he was executing some pitches,” Washington said.
But that rhythm didn’t last long. Perez gave up four runs in the fourth and couldn’t get out of the inning. Victorino came through with another run-scoring single with two strikes, and Jonny Gomes added a two-run single later in the inning.
It marked Perez’s earliest exit of what has become a three-start slide. He lasted five innings in his previous start at Colorado and only 4 2/3 innings the start before that against Oakland.
Perez is 0-3 with a 12.83 ERA over his last three outings, which comes on the heels of his throwing two complete-game shutouts.
Perez insists he’s healthy and his confidence level remains high.
“I’m good; I’m the same guy,” Perez said. “I know that it’s coming. You have bad days, and soon good ones are coming and you have to wait for that. I’m going to still work, and I just want to help the team.”
His teammates haven’t lost faith in him, either.
“If he goes down 10 times, he’ll get up 11 times,” catcher Robinson Chirinos said. “I know he’ll get back up.”
Despite the 6-0 hole going into their half of the fourth, the Rangers got back in it.
Prince Fielder had a sacrifice fly, and Alex Rios drove in another run with a triple to center to make it 6-2 in the fourth. The Rangers trimmed the deficit again the next inning on an RBI double by Elvis Andrus.
That, however, was as close as they’d get.
After Shawn Tolleson and Aaron Poreda combined for 3 1/3 scoreless innings, Justin Germano couldn’t keep it going in the eighth.
Pitching coach Mike Maddux was ejected that inning as Germano gave up two runs on an RBI single by Dustin Pedroia and a sacrifice fly by Victorino.
But the story afterward was Perez and his continuing struggles.
“I don’t know if something’s out of whack, but it didn’t seem like he could get in rhythm,” Washington said. “Like I said in the third inning, it looked like he was starting to get back in sync, but then it didn’t happen.”