Rangers 2, Phillies 1
- This felt like a game the Texas Rangers would have lost last year. Martin Perez wasn’t sharp, the offense wasn’t doing much, it was a one run game.
- And the 2023 Rangers will lose some of these games over the course of the season, of course. But unlike the 2022 Rangers, it doesn’t feel like, at this point, they’re going to lose the vast majority of these games.
- Martin Perez didn’t have the pinpoint command of his pitches he showed most of 2022. He allowed 11 baserunners, on eight hits and three walks. But he got double plays when he needed them, avoided letting things snowball, and turned things over to the bullpen at 98 pitches with two outs in the sixth, having allowed just a single run.
- Perez struck out seven Phillies hitters, and he had his changeup working — he threw the changeup 27 times and got eight swings and misses, compared to two with his sinker and one with his slider. The changeup is Perez’s out pitch, the one that can consistently generate whiffs when it is on, and he used it to great effect in the win.
- Brock Burke and Jonathan Hernandez combined to pitch the 2.1 innings necessary to get to the ninth, and were remarkably efficient in doing so, needing just 19 pitches, combined, to record those seven outs. That was helped by Hernandez needing just one pitch to get out of a runner on first, one out situation he was brought into in the top of the seventh, as he elicited a 6-4-3 GIDP from J.T. Realmuto on the first pitch he threw.
- Will Smith handled the ninth for the Rangers, in the first ninth inning save situation of the year, though whether that was because of the matchups or because he’s the capital “C” closer, I guess we shall see. He had a 1-2-3 inning in his first appearance as a Ranger, though, capping off a most triumphant weekend for the Rangers.
- The offense didn’t really get much going against the Phillies pitchers, picking up just eight hits and not drawing any walks. That said, they did just enough, with Josh Jung homering in the second to give the Rangers an early lead, and Marcus Semien bringing home Mitch Garver on a two out single to right in the bottom of the fifth for the go-ahead run.
- Martin Perez topped out at 93.2 mph on his sinker, averaging 91.0 mph on the day. Brock Burke hit 95.0 mph on his fastball. Jonathan Hernandez maxed out at 98.5 mph with his sinker. Will Smith’s fastball reached 94.3 mph.
- Corey Seager had the hardest hit ball of the game once again — the third time in three games — with a 112.3 mph single. He also had a 104.9 mph line out. Robbie Grossman had a 103.2 mph double, and Josh Jung’s homer was 101.7 mph off the bat.
- The Rangers have swept the defending National League champs, and are 3-0 to start the season for the first time since 2011. Let’s enjoy our First Place Texas Rangers.