Texas Rangers: Martin Perez looks to continue strong pitching trend vs. A’s

May 18, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Texas Rangers starting pitcher Martin Perez (33) throws the ball during the fifth inning against the Oakland Athletics at O.co Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kenny Karst-USA TODAY Sports
May 18, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Texas Rangers starting pitcher Martin Perez (33) throws the ball during the fifth inning against the Oakland Athletics at O.co Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kenny Karst-USA TODAY Sports /

Texas Rangers starter Martin Perez has a history against the Oakland A’s and he’ll look to continue a trend of great pitching against them Wednesday afternoon.

After two games in Oakland, the Texas Rangers pitching staff has looked much better as a whole. A.J. Griffin set an early tone for the series with his six strong innings Monday night. Yu Darvish followed that up with a great night of his own. That was, until he hit the sixth inning. Yet, the Rangers find themselves split with Oakland 1-1 heading into Wednesday’s finale.

Lefty Martin Perez (1-1, 2.20) will get the ball at 2:35 PM CDT against Oakland righty Jesse Hahn (0-1, 3.75) in the rubber match. Perez will try to pick up where Griffin and Darvish left off and hold the Athletics hitters at bay. He’s already proven he can do it.

Last time against Oakland

Wednesday’s game is very familiar territory for Perez. His last start against the A’s came just ten days ago, in a rubber match, in the afternoon. Although it took place in Arlington, he’ll face a pretty similar lineup.

Perez lasted 5 1/3 shutout innings and allowed six hits and three walks. Had he not given up a single and double back-to-back with one out in the sixth, he may have lasted longer. But he’d already reached 92 pitches at that point and manager Jeff Banister didn’t want to risk what was a 3-0 lead at the time and handed the ball to the bullpen.

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The Texas relievers took over and helped Perez to his first and only win thus far of the season. He struck out six Athletics hitters on the day, throwing 59.8% of his pitches for strikes. The sixth inning double by Mark Cahna was the only extra base hit Perez allowed that day.

Going back to last season, the Rangers have won Perez’s last four starts against Oakland. You have to go back to May 18 of last season to find his last loss to them. But that wasn’t his last start at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum.

Last time in Oakland

The last time Perez took the hill in Oakland, he pitched seven innings, surrendering four runs on nine hits. Although it didn’t count as an official “quality start,” he pitched well beyond what the Rangers needed that night.

The Texas offense got off to a fiery start with seven runs in the first three innings. This allowed Perez to pitch to contact for most of the game and he thrived. Although he struck out just two A’s hitters, he also lasted seven strong on just 90 pitches. That ties six other starts from 2016 as his longest of the season.

Lifetime against Oakland

Lifetime, Perez is 3-2 in Oakland with a 4.03 earned run average. His best start there came in 2014, when he pitched the second of back-to-back shoutouts. Having pitched nine scoreless against the White Sox five days earlier, he did it again in Oakland.

They managed just three hits against him on the afternoon, which happened to be a Wednesday in April. Like the start from last season in Oakland, he used efficiency and pitching to contact as his bread and butter. Only three Athletics hitters struck out against him, but they also earned just two singles and a double for the game.

The history is there for Perez. But the roster he faces has a lifetime .306 average against him. That happens when you pitch to contact, though. Out of 94 plate appearances, they have just three home runs and only eight extra base hits total.

Outfielder Khris Davis poses the biggest threat, as he does against a lot of teams. He has a .462 average with two doubles, a home run and four RBI in 15 plate appearances. But Perez has also struck him out five times, so he can be defeated.

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Look for Perez to pitch to contact once again on Wednesday. He’ll use a low pitch count to get him into the seventh and the newly-revitalized Texas Rangers bullpen will take over for him. The offense will get a couple of early runs off Hahn so that Perez can put it in cruise control to a 5-2 Rangers win.