An intriguing pitching matchup is scheduled in the Seattle Mariners-Texas Rangers’ series finale on Sunday afternoon in Arlington, Texas.
Left-hander Martin Perez (4-2, majors-best 1.42 ERA) will make the start for the Rangers. The Mariners will turn to promising rookie right-hander George Kirby (1-1, 3.46), who picked up his first win in the majors during his last start.
Seattle recorded a 4-3 win in the series opener on Friday before Texas countered with a 3-2 victory the following night.
Perez has been one of the biggest surprises in the big leagues. The left-hander was named the American League Pitcher of the Month for May after he posted a 4-0 record with an 0.64 ERA.
A free-agent signing after spending the previous two seasons with the Boston Red Sox, Perez is in his second stint with Texas. He initially was with the Rangers from 2012-18.
Few could have imagined Perez would be off to such a fast start after going 7-8 with a 4.74 ERA with the Red Sox one season ago. But Texas’ familiarity with him led to the reunion.
What made Perez so appealing to sign?
“A lot of things,” Rangers’ manager Chris Woodward said on his pregame radio show this week. “His growth and development as a pitcher and as a player. He was in a really good spot mentally. We knew he could still pitch. We saw it last year in Boston. The stuff was still there. But the way he’s put it all together has been phenomenal. It’s been exciting.”
Perez owns an 8-5 record with a 3.44 ERA in 25 career appearances (22 starts) against Seattle.
The Mariners have an offense that is capable of flexing its muscles. Jesse Winker hit a two-run homer in the fifth inning of Saturday’s loss, but the offense did little else.
“You’ve really got to hit it in Texas to get it out,” Seattle manager Scott Servais said. “Just have good at-bats. Keep the line moving, and don’t try to do the big things. Do the little things, (and) sometimes big things happen.”
In Sunday’s series finale, the Mariners are eager to see what they get from their touted rookie right-hander.
Kirby made the leap from Double-A Arkansas after posting a 2-0 record with a 1.82 ERA in five starts.
Kirby scattered four hits and struck out seven in six scoreless innings in his major-league debut on May 8 against the Tampa Bay Rays. On Tuesday at the Baltimore Orioles, the rookie picked up his first big league win after allowing four hits and fanning eight in six scoreless innings.
The 24-year-old has notched 28 strikeouts in 26 innings for the Mariners.
On Saturday, the Rangers called up infield prospect Ezequiel Duran from Double-A Frisco, and the 23-year-old started at third base. Duran was called up because rookie Josh H. Smith exited Friday’s game due to a sore left shoulder.
Duran was hitting .317 at the Double-A level. A natural shortstop, he’s playing at third base, a position with which he’s familiar while competing in the Arizona Fall League. Duran made an error that didn’t factor into any scoring on Saturday.
“Basically, every game he played in the Fall League was at third base,” Woodward said.
— Field Level Media