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Thoughts on a 3-2 Rangers loss

Astros 3, Rangers 2

MLB: Houston Astros at Texas Rangers Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Astros 3, Rangers 2

  • Well, at least Eli White pinch ran today.
  • Oh, and all the stuff from the thoughts post for yesterday’s game about winnable games, plays made and plays not made, and all that? We can recycle it for today’s game as well.
  • Martin Perez was the story of the day for the Rangers, at least from the positive side of things. After throwing six innings of shutout ball against Oakland in his last outing, Perez, for the second time in his career, flirted with perfection, taking a not just a no-hitter but a perfect game into the seventh inning.
  • History was denied when Chas McCormick doubled to lead off the seventh. Perez retired the next two batters, but Yordan Alvarez rifled a single into left field to bring home McCormick before Perez got Yuli Gurriel to ground out to end the inning.
  • Allowing your first run of the game in the seventh inning — and it being just a single run that is allowed — shouldn’t be a big deal, but Justin Verlander had been almost as good as Martin Perez (and there’s a phrase we don’t expect to hear often), allowing just a single hit and no walks through six innings. Thus, the run allowed by Perez put Texas behind 1-0.
  • The Rangers offense finally rallied in the seventh, though. A one out single by Corey Seager, followed by a softly hit single from Mitch Garver, put runners on first and second for Nathaniel Lowe. Lowe smoked a line drive into right field...but, as luck would have it, hit it too hard, forcing Seager to stop at third. Adolis Garcia lofted a 2-0 pitch into medium-deep center to bring Seager home and tie the score, but Willie Calhoun grounded out to end the threat.
  • And thus the fateful bullpen decision. With Martin Perez at just 76 pitches, and not having given up a hit until the seventh, there was a clear case for letting Perez go out for the eighth inning. Instead, Chris Woodward brought in Matt Bush to pitch the eighth. Bush struck out Aledmys Diaz, hit Jeremy Pena, then, on a 2-2 pitch to Kyle Tucker, left a curveball up belt high and on the inside part of the plate. Tucker turned on it, got under it, pulled it, and kept it inside the foul pole for a two run home run. Corey Seager homered in the ninth to make it 3-2, but the Rangers fell short, and once again, an extra base hit on a curve ball left up in the zone by a reliever brought in to replace a starting pitcher who was doing well was the difference in the game.
  • Folks are mad at Chris Woodward for pulling Perez. He was cruising, his pitch count was under control, the bullpen has been unreliable, so Perez should have stayed in. And I get that argument.
  • But I also get making the move for Bush there. Perez had not exactly dominated — out of 76 pitches, he generated just five swings and misses. He had just four strikeouts. The two hits he gave up in the seventh were two of the hardest hit balls he had given up all games. And...well, he’s Martin Perez. A week ago Rangers fans were wondering how long we’d have to wait before he would be replaced by Cole Winn or A.J. Alexy or someone else from the minors. If you’d asked this morning who had a better chance of keeping the Astros off the board for an inning, Matt Bush or Martin Perez, I don’t know that Perez would have exactly been a runaway winner.
  • Unlike yesterday, where I think pulling Glenn Otto for Brett Martin was the right move, given that you had lefties coming up who were going to be seeing Otto for the third time, and given Otto likely was only 10 or so pitches away from his limit for the day, I can go either way on Perez versus Bush. I don’t know that there’s a right answer or a wrong answer here. But I can understand the decision to pull Perez.
  • Anyway, arguing about the decision to go to the pen is at least taking attention off the fact that the Rangers offense was pretty assy today, so there’s that.
  • Corey Seager’s home run was 106.3 mph off the bat, the hardest hit ball by the Rangers all game. He also had a 96.6 mph fly out and a 96.1 mph pop out that were the fifth and sixth hardest hit balls of the game, as well as a 92.4 mph single that was the ninth hardest hit ball of the game. So Corey Seager wasn’t the problem with the offense today.
  • Other than Seager, the Rangers had Nathaniel Lowe’s single at 106.1 mph, a Kole Calhoun lineout in the eighth at 105.8 mph, and an Adolis Garcia second inning flyout that was 102.3 mph off the bat. That Garcia ball qualified as a “barrel” using the Statcast metrics, with an estimated distance of 407 feet and a .790 expected batting average. The Tucker home run was not a barrel, and had a .320 expect batting average. As Tepid says, baseball exists to fuck with you.
  • Martin Perez hit 95.2 mph with his sinker. Matt Bush’s fastball topped out at 97.8 mph. John King, who pitched the ninth, touched 94.6 mph with his sinker.
  • And the beat goes on.