There’s something about Martín Pérez when it comes to pitching against the Houston Astros this season.
Pérez carried a no-hitter into the fifth inning on Friday at Minute Maid Park, less than a month after taking a perfect game into the seventh inning against the Astros at Globe Life Field.
By game's end Pérez had his third win of the season, as the Rangers defeated the Houston Astros, 3-0. He also had the Rangers' first complete game of 2022 and a shut out to boot.
Pérez's efficiency allowed him to go the distance. He gave up seven hits, no runs and a walk while striking out five. He threw 108 pitches, 73 of which were strikes.
Pérez was locked in. He retired nine of the first 10 Astros he faced, issuing a walk to Michael Brantley in the first inning. Brantley nearly broke up the no-hitter in the fourth with a sharp ground ball to first baseman Nathaniel Lowe that forced Lowe to lean across his body while the ball caromed off his glove.
In the fifth, after retiring the first two hitters, Pérez gave up a hard-hit single to Astros rookie infielder Jeremy Peña that broke up the no-hitter.
In the next inning, Pérez gave up a single to Chas McCormick and wiggled out of it. Martin Maldonado moved McCormick to second on a sacrifice bunt, and then Jose Altuve’s sacrifice fly moved McCormick to third. But Perez struck out Brantley to end the sixth.
Alex Bregman led off the seventh with a sharp single to left field. Then Kyle Tucker singled and that led to action in the Rangers’ bullpen. Pérez then struck out Yuli Gurriel and got Peña to ground into a double play to end the inning.
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Pérez gave up a two-out single by Bregman in the top of the ninth, followed by a single by Kyle Tucker on Pérez's 100th pitch.
Pérez was named the Rangers ‘surprise player’ by The Athletic earlier this week after a 2-2 start with a team-low 2.01 ERA entering Friday’s starts. That ERA was fourth-best in the American League. In addition, Pérez has five of the Rangers’ nine quality starts and he hadn’t allowed a home run.
His last start against Boston on Sunday kick-started the Rangers’ four-game winning streak, which the Astros snapped on Thursday. Against the Red Sox — whom Pérez played for in 2020 and 2021 — he went six innings, giving up five hits, one run and two walks while striking out seven. The seven strikeouts was a season-high.
In some ways, Pérez is reclaiming the form he showed early in his career when he was with Texas. He played for Texas from 2012-2018 and he won 10 games in 2013, 10 in 2016 and a career high 13 in 2017.
He also entered the game with a quality record against the Astros — 8-5 with a 2.89 ERA in 15 games, all starts. That is his lowest lifetime ERA against any opponent.
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