(author's note: some of you guys might know me as a writer over at Mavs Moneyball, most probably don't. I live in Round Rock and am attending UNT next year with a journalism major. Through my SB connections, I was able to get a press pass for the Express game, and so here's what I saw Friday night. Hope it gives you a little more detail that just a box score and some tweets can provide.)
Martin Perez pitched seven innings of one hit baseball Friday night in Round Rock. Certainly, a promising start for the highly touted Ranger prospect after a disappointing 2012 so far. I'd love to tell you how he dominated and blew away the Oklahoma City batters in Robbie Ross-fashion (too soon?), but I have to bring a bit of bad news. He's still showing the same tendencies that have given him trouble throughout this 2012 campaign.
The second inning is where his troubling tendencies really popped up. With two outs, he faced the DH Goebbert, a lefty batting in the seven hole. Left-handed batters hit Perez at a .258 clip, about forty points lower than righties, and Perez was able to get up 1-2 on him. Several off-target pitches later, he ended up putting Goebbert on base via balls. He proceeded to lose his command entirely, and issued a four pitch walk to the following batter, and two more to the nine-hole to end up with eight consecutive balls. He induced a weak grounder to 2nd to end the inning, but with a lot more work than you'd like to see.
The third featured the only hit of the game, a sharp double to left, and another four pitch walk. Martin escaped, but only to walk yet another in the fourth inning and throwing nineteen pitches before getting out.
At this point, Perez looked like he might not even get through six. It was good to see him finally get locked in and retire nine in a row, including a five pitch sixth inning. He notched only one strikeout in his final three frames, but induced six groundouts with the Express infield handled flawlessly.
The 2-0 lead that turned out to be the final score was achieved in the first inning. Julio Borbon was the offensive player of the game, going a perfect 4/4 at the plate, and sparked the early scoring with a leadoff single hit up the middle. A couple of singles later, and the Express took the lead they never relinquished.
Of note: Mark Hamburger came on to complete the final two innings, and despite a slight ninth inning scare, brought the Express home. It might be the last thing he ever does for this club, however, as the Rangers need room on the 40 and he has not had an impressive year with no real ceiling to reach any higher.
Good for Perez -- he battled, he worked around his command issues, and he ended up giving Express a great start with just the lone hit allowed. With his continued command problems, though, starts like these are going to continue to be outliers. His performance from the final few frames is hopefully what continues on as the season progresses, not the eight errant pitches in a row version that reared its head in the second. I'm certainly rooting for him.