ARLINGTON, Texas — The secret is out on how good Texas Rangers starting pitcher Martín Pérez is and has been all season long, but no matter how much of a head start opponents get before taking their turn against the crafty lefty, it’s Pérez who continues to gain the upper hand.
The Pérez freight train chugged unabated on Tuesday evening, tossing six scoreless innings as the Rangers shut out the Philadelphia Phillies 7-0 at Globe Life Field to begin a two-game series. Nathaniel Lowe and Jonah Heim hit back-to-back home runs in the fifth inning to open up the scoring and provide the only runs the Rangers would need, while Marcus Semien hit a double and a two-run home run as part of a three-hit night.
Philadelphia came into today as the second-highest scoring team in Major League Baseball, but Pérez thwarted every Phillies scoring opportunity as he pitched tactfully around traffic on the bases all game long. Pérez let the first two men on base, on a Kyle Schwarber bunt single and a Rhys Hoskins walk, before he bore down for the first time, inducing a double play from Nick Castellanos before retiring J.T. Realmuto on a groundout to end the threat.
Though he gave up six hits, three walks and threw wild pitches, Pérez was able to strand eight runners on base, with the Phillies leaving a runner on second in four of the first six innings. Philadelphia was 0-for-9 at the plate with runners in scoring position.
Pérez’s scoreless outing allowed him to lower his ERA on the season to 1.96, now ranking second in the American League and only trailing another left-handed pitcher, the Tampa Bay Rays’ Shane McClanahan (1.81).
The Rangers’ bats finally woke up in the bottom of the fifth to give Pérez support. With two outs and no one on in the fifth, Lowe launched a line drive to left center off Phillies starter Kyle Gibson that just cleared the wall to open the scoring. Four pitches later, Heim skied a high fly ball to right that just cleared the right field wall and the glove of a leaping Castellanos to double the Rangers’ lead.
Pérez put up a zero in the next half inning after the Rangers’ rally, but not without adventure. Realmuto and Alec Bohm reached on singles and were on first and second with one out when Rangers left fielder Kole Calhoun made a diving catch of a sinking line drive off the bat of Matt Vierling that saved at least one run. The next batter, Johan Camargo, flew out to center to end the sixth and end Pérez’s night without a blemish in the runs column.
Texas tacked on late with a single run in the sixth and four more in the eighth, as Marcus Semien and Calhoun hit two-run home runs in the eighth, both off reliever Jeurys Familia.
The Rangers bullpen was perfect in its three innings of work, as Matt Bush, Dennis Santana and Brock Burke each worked a perfect inning to close out the game. Texas recorded its fifth shutout of the season, with three of those games started by Pérez.
*Editor’s note: Above the byline is the photo gallery from Tuesday evening’s game, with all photos taken by Dallas-area photographer Ross James. After clicking on the first photo to enlarge the picture, make sure to press the left and right arrow buttons to scroll through the rest of the pictures. There are 26 pictures in total.