Texas Rangers

Rangers’ mistake wasn’t passing on Perez. It was who they chose to fill out the rotation

Time to compete for Rangers Martin Perez

Texas Rangers pitcher Martin Perez talks about the start of the new season. (Star-Telegram/Max Faulkner)
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Texas Rangers pitcher Martin Perez talks about the start of the new season. (Star-Telegram/Max Faulkner)

The Minnesota Twins did something Friday night against Adrian Sampson that they hadn’t done since 1966 (according to my cipherin’, that’s 53 years).

They collected six extra-base hits in one inning, four doubles and two homers. Mitch Garver, Jonathan Schoop, Byron Buxton and Nelson Cruz had the doubles, and Luis Arraez and Jorge Polanco had the homers.

Each came off Adrian Sampson, who tossed a perfect first inning with two strikeouts.

“I was today might be my day,” Sampson said.

The 1966 Twins hit five homers (Rich Rollins, Zolio Versalles, Tony Oliva, Don Mincher and Harmon Killebrew) and one double (Jimmie Hall) in the seventh inning June 9, 1966, against Kansas City Athletics pitchers Catfish Hunter, Paul Lindblad and John Wyatt.

Hunter, of course, is in the National Baseball Hall of Fame, and so is Killebrew. Lindblad pitched with the Rangers over two stints, and made Arlington his home after retiring.

Sampson had allowed one run in the second and had two outs and none on when Arraez homered. He was the first of six straight to reach, and put the game out of reach.

That homer also set the MLB record for most homers by a team before the All-Star break. The Twins kept on mashing, too.

Here’s some Rangers Reaction from a 15-6 loss.

Sweet revenge?

The beneficiary of all that Twins offense was old friend Martin Perez, who has been a pleasant surprise this season for the American League Central-leading Twins. He tossed six scoreless innings at his old team before yielding four runs in the seventh.

Perez improved to 8-3, and his ERA is respectable 4.26. The Rangers declined a $7.5 million club option on Perez, whom they signed as a 16-year-old international free agent in 2007, during the off-season.

Perez hardly wowed last season, which was marred by a fractured right elbow in an off-season accident at his ranch. But it’s not like the Rangers went out and signed anyone better — or healthier.

The Rangers traded for Drew Smyly, gave Edinson Volquez $5 million after adding him to the 40-man roster, and signed Shelby Miller.

So, yeah, in hindsight Perez would have been an upgrade. Perhaps he would have taken to the fresh data and coaching from the Rangers has he appears to have done in Minnesota.

Like, oh, throwing his cutter more.

“That’s a pitch he didn’t use much last season,” Andrus said.

Wouldn’t that have been a better risk to take than Smyly or Miller (I’m exempting Volquez because he rehabbed with the Rangers in 2018)?

It would be interesting to hear the Rangers’ answer, hindsight or not.

Hold the antics

This might be coming straight from the get-off-my-lawn department, especially since my feelings were shared by two guys in their 60s, but here we go:

Perez and former teammates Elvis Andrus and Rougned Odor need to stop trying to recreate the fun-loving smack-talk Adrian Beltre and Felix Hernandez exchanged to the delight of so many.

Perez, Andrus and Odor are countrymen and good buddies, especially Odor and Perez. They were having fun, though things became muted with the game out of reach so early.

But watching them do it is like watching the second True Detective. That might be a little harsh, but Beltre and Hernandez were at the top of their profession and no one will be able to match the original.

It might be different if, say, Odor wasn’t batting under .200 and if Perez had ever posted an ERA below 4.00 over a full season. At least Andrus has been to multiple All-Star Games.

The guess here is more words will be exchanged if Perez pitches next month when the Twins come to Arlington, so I better get used to it.

FedX delivering

Isiah Kiner-Falefa is on a rehab assignment for his broken right middle finger, and he should return from the 10-day injured list shortly after the All-Star break.

Note the “shortly after.” He isn’t a lock to open the second half with the Rangers in part because his replacement is playing well.

The Rangers have not had a decline at catcher since acquiring Tim Federowicz, whose Twitter handle is @FedX19. He collected one of the four hits against Perez over the first six innings and has been serviceable defensively.

That is allowing the Rangers to consider giving Kiner-Falefa steady at-bats at Triple A Nashville to get into a rhythm offensively, especially since he will be sharing time with Jeff Mathis upon returning.

“I think it’s important for Isiah to get as many quality [at-bats] as he can before he comes back here,” manager Chris Woodward said. “We don’t want to rush him. There is no need to rush him. Tim is doing such a good job, he makes it easy.”

Woodward said that the Rangers looking into a plan where Kiner-Falefa would catch one day and get at-bats at designated hitter the next. He can spend 20 days on a rehab assignment before the Rangers have to activate him, option him or pull him back from assignment.

Kiner-Falefa started his rehab assignment Monday.

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After 11 seasons covering the Rangers for the Star-Telegram, Jeff Wilson knows that baseball is a 24/7/365 business and there is far more to baseball than just the 162 games each season. There’s also more to Jeff -- like a family and impressive arsenals of Titleist hats and adidas shoes -- but sometimes it’s hard to tell.
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