Martín Pérez was the starter the Red Sox needed last night
In a start that should’ve seen a tally added to the win column for Red Sox lefty Martín Pérez, it just wasn’t meant to be. Making his return to his former club he was able to bounce back after a nightmare start in his last outing. On a night where he did everything in his power to give Boston their best chance to win, his team couldn’t return the favor. Defensive miscues and an ice-cold offense dropped him to 0-2 in 2021.
I know it’s April and it may sound dramatic, but last night was a make-or-break start for Pérez against the Rangers. After getting shelled by the Seattle Mariners (3.2/4H/4BB/3K/2ER) he needed to have a statement start to prove he can still be the guy Alex Cora needs him to be. The charismatic lefty knew that this was going to be an important start and believes one that he truly needed to get right in 2021. Pérez was pretty honest as he addressed the media after the game and didn’t hold back.
“Good game,” said Peréz. “I think I needed one of these games to get everything back, and I think I put everything together. … My changeup was there and was able to [create differential] between the pitches. Good outing. I was competing and doing my best to win the game.”
Boston’s starters have been stellar for the most part this season though there have been some hiccups along the way. With Pérez rebounding in such a big way last night he can put himself back on the right track for May. It wasn’t just that he had a good start and all is forgotten. He had full command of his pitches, placed them with accuracy, and held the Rangers to just 5 hits. He also struck out 7 while not surrendering a single free pass, it was beautiful.
Though the runs were attached to his name it’s hard to blame him considering the shotty defense we saw from the Red Sox last night. Both Alex Verdugo and Xander Bogaerts, two sure bets on defense, made massive mistakes that hurt Pérez and Boston. Though you’d never know that as Martín will always take the heat for anything that may go wrong during his starts as he always accepts accountability.
The big story was his changeup and how well he commanded it. It didn’t matter where Christian Vázquez wanted the pitch it went there. Though the duo had a few miscommunications as will happen from time to time, they were a success at the end of the day. Martín is using last night’s solid effort as redirection from his first few starts and as a launching pad toward the rest of his campaign in 2021.
“I tried to have a little long toss with my changeup a little bit [in between starts] to get back the feeling with that pitch,” said Peréz. “At 120 feet, just trying to get good extension in front of my eyes and have my pitch back and finally get it, and it made me excited.”
Last season Martín was bumped from being the fifth man in the rotation up to the second spot and he performed well for Ron Roenicke’s side. This year he’s in the position that the Red Sox had initially intended for him and he’s been solid but there is definitely room for improvement. It always feels like we’re just waiting for that one inning where the rug gets pulled out from under him. He showed last night that he can definitely avoid that at least based on his efforts.
“I feel good things are coming. When you’re a pitcher and you have a great changeup, sometimes you don’t have it and it’s hard for you to compete with only two pitches.”
The Red Sox are off to a great start and it’s heavily due to how well their starting rotation has been pitching in April. Boston’s weakness over the last two seasons has been the pitching staff and both ends of the spectrum have been crushing it on the mound in 2021. With another strong start behind him and only positives on his mind, Martín Pérez can continue to contribute to that charge and add more wins to Boston’s record.