Texas Rangers

Rangers Reaction: That was the pitcher Perez can be. The trick is doing it again and again

Martin Perez opened with five scoreless innings in his first outing since April 29, and didn’t fall apart with the going got tough in the sixth.
Martin Perez opened with five scoreless innings in his first outing since April 29, and didn’t fall apart with the going got tough in the sixth. The Associated Press

Camden Yards is one of the few American League ballparks that has an open-air press box, which at times is a welcomed thing but at times isn’t good.

Here, the beat writers get a sense of what it is fans at Globe Life Park go through on a daily basis. It’s not as hot as Arlington, but it’s far more humid and still miserable.

Safeco Field in Seattle is open-air, though the Mariners’ PR staff really could keep the garage doors closed on the really chilly days (they never do). Yankee Stadium is open-air.

Not coincidentally, the three games in which I’ve felt the coldest covering them were in Baltimore, Seattle and New York.

No one feels sorry for us, and we don’t want pity. If anything, Baltimore gives us pity for the fans who brave it at Texas Rangers home games.

Sunday’s first-half finale, a day game, promises to be awfully sweaty. I better pack some extra deodorant.

Here’s some Rangers Reaction from a 1-0 loss to the Baltimore Orioles.

1. Pitchers can’t do anything about what their teams’ hitters are doing to support them. That’s why the poor old win has been ditched by most as a meaningful stat.

Martin Perez, who hadn’t started since April 29, pitched well enough to win in his return from the 60-day disabled list but didn’t. He doesn’t like to lose, but he loved the way he pitched.

The left-hander, whose right elbow is feeling much better, allowed one run in seven innings. He threw 91 innings and saved his best for last with a 1-2-3 seventh that he punctuated with a strikeout.

He was a little uneven early, which shouldn’t be unexpected for a pitcher who hadn’t competed in the majors in more than two months, and the sixth inning got bumpy as the Orioles scored the game’s lone run.

But in between he was solid, and he didn’t allow the sixth to get as bad as it could have (thanks to Elvis Andrus snaring a line drive that would have scored two). He kept his composure then and balanced his emotions early on.

That might have been a new Perez, the one the Rangers have been wanting to see.

“He earned the right to go back out there for the seventh just based on how he pitched,” manager Jeff Banister said. “We made a couple mistakes behind him, which, those situations with Martin, we know they can get away from him a little bit. It was a very mature outing from Martin.”

Of course, Perez has given reason in the past to hope that he was the pitcher the Rangers believe he can be. He’s going to have to repeat Saturday — against better lineups, when more balls are put in play and more bad things can happen behind him — more often than not the rest of the way.

For one start and the ensuing postgame interview, he sounded different. He had something to prove in that seventh inning.

He’s trying to put his roller-coaster past behind him.

“To let everybody know that it’s not going to happen anymore,” Perez said. “Everybody has time to think and mature a little more.”

2. Only one more game to go until the All-Star break, at which point everyone will get some needed rest. That includes the Rangers’ lone All-Star, Shin-Soo Choo.

The All-Star Game can be rough on players. Not necessarily the baseball stuff, but the players-only parties and the media obligations and the red-carpet parade and the rush to the airport to get a flight home.

But Choo’s strained right quad will get rest, and that’s the important thing. The Rangers are hoping he can return to playing outfield when the second half resumes July 20 at home against Cleveland.

If he can, and if he extends his on-base streak Sunday after drawing a leadoff walk Saturday to reach 50 straight, his ability to play the outfield will help shut up the people A) who can’t grasp the concept that these streaks aren’t team games but individual games and B) who think that the injury is just an excuse to let Choo duck certain pitchers.

Chris Sale is the one people point out, and the media has even pointed to him. The media has also called out Banister’s decision to not use Choo on Wednesday in the eighth and ninth innings after Sale had exited and with the game on the line.

Alas, the streak lives on, no matter what the misinformed and malcontents think. If the streak survives Sunday and Choo’s quad survives the All-Star Game odyssey, he’ll be able to play the outfield and have more chances to keep it going.

3. The quad was a factor in Banister opting to use rookie Isiah Kiner-Falefa to run for Choo after his single to open the eighth. Unfortunately, that didn’t end well.

Kiner-Falefa moved to second on an error, giving the Rangers runners at first and second with the middle of the order coming. But Orioles reliever Mychal Givens picked off Kiner-Falefa at second, and the threat fizzled.

It was a rare mishap by Kiner-Falefa, though in fairness, it was a quick move by Givens and a close play. And don’t think for a second it’s a play that will have the Rangers thinking differently about IKF.

He is in the majors to stay, Banister said before the game, and he is officially the Rangers’ No. 2 catcher. That’s probably not great news for Carlos Perez, who sprained his ankle in mid-June and has been on the DL since.

Perez can remain on rehab assignment until Tuesday, when the Rangers must decide whether to add him to the active roster or designate him for assignment.

Banister said that Kiner-Falefa, who has caught seven MLB games in his career and 77 total between the minors and the majors, doesn’t look inexperienced behind the plate. He has shown no glaring deficiencies, but Banister said that a young catcher typically needs two seasons to develop into a complete big-league catcher.

Kiner-Falefa might take longer, as the Rangers intend to let him play the infield from time to time. Regular catcher Robinson Chirinos is likely to come back next year on a club-friendly option, and Jose Trevino is still considered the best defensive catcher in the minor leagues.

If the Rangers needed an everyday catcher to fill in for Chirinos if he were to, say, join the Peace Corps., the sense here is that Trevino would be the guy who fills in (if Perez isn’t activated next week).

But if the Rangers are looking to develop Kiner-Falefa into more of a catcher than an infielder, as was their intention to start the season at Triple A Round Rock, then perhaps he’s atop a new pecking order behind Chirinos.

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