The last time the Rangers were in St. Louis, A.J. Pierzynski was at a table outside the stadium, wearing a tie and an overcoat and the boring kind of gloves, in one of which he held a microphone with a Fox Sports flag.
Nelson Cruz was doing damage in right field not anything like the kind he inflicted last night.
And Martin Perez was coming off a rude introduction to Class AAA, posting a 6.43 ERA in 10 late-season starts for Round Rock, the final one of which was a clunky five-inning, four-run effort that Michael Kirkman and Tanner Scheppers relieved hitlessly, followed by a five-inning, three-run playoff start that Perez lost.
Frankly, I’m trying to get this report done as quickly as possible, because I need to get some things done before Texas and St. Louis get the third game of this series rolling, a series that the Rangers have already won, thanks last night to a brilliant effort from a 22-year-old a lot less heralded than the 22-year-old he was facing. And because I needed an excuse to force the title of today’s report on you.
Yes, tactically speaking, Texas wanted Perez starting in this series because the Cardinals don’t hit lefties nearly as well as they hit righties. But he earned this start based on what he’s being doing in Round Rock, and last night he showed why, in spring training, the final rotation spot belonged to him, not to Justin Grimm and not to Nick Tepesch – who would be the top two vote-getters for AL Rookie of the Month in April, until Perez took a ball off his wrist late in camp and couldn’t start the season.
Perez earned last night’s start, and he shoved.
Two runs on five hits (four singles) and one walk, an extremely efficient 82 pitches through seven frames, the look of a kid slowing things down and keeping the game in control.
That was awesome.
Pierzynski came up big, and Cruz did again, too. And it was another in a lengthening line of solid games for Leonys Martin, but last night, as far as Martin’s go, it was the kid lefty who, if I were still seven years old and drawing a picture of my Player of the Game in my dog-earred scorebook, would have gotten the nod after Texas 4, St. Louis 2, and now it’s time to go try and sweep a series in Busch Stadium before taking things to the Bronx and then coming back home to face the Reds, the next very good club Martin Perez will get to go to battle against.