For the first time in 2022, 2021 Martin Perez showed up.
Staked to a 4-0 lead, Perez had the meltdown inning in the fourth that he hasn’t had all year. It was the meltdown inning that defined his career as a Ranger. It was the meltdown inning that led to his nickname Meltdown Marty. The pattern was familiar. He would be brilliant for a few innings, then break down. An error, a bad call, the wind blowing too hard, a fan sneezing too loudly in section 314, something minor would derail him and he would walk off the mound a beaten man.
That was the difference between the first ten years of his career and this year. Not only did he not break down when things weren’t going his way, rarely did he even get to a point when things weren’t going his way.
Last night, Perez was perfect through three innings. There was no way to anticipate what went down in the fourth.
He gave up a single to Jose Altuve, then lost Yuli Gurriel to a walk on five pitches. When Yordan Alverez grounded into a double play, it looked like the magic Perez somehow found this year was once again summonsed.
Then he battled Alex Bregman with an at-bat that seemed to go on for days before finally walking him.
It was at that exact point that Meltdown Marty took over. He grabbed the ball, threw four straight pitches out of the strike zone to Kyle Tucker to load the bases, then threw two pitches to Aledmys Diaz to unload them.
In the blink of an eye, a 4-0 dominance turned into a 4-4 tie, and there was no way the Rangers were going to win this one.
Which they didn’t.
And that casts a dark cloud over the rest of the series. If the Rangers cannot win with the only bona fide starter they have, how can they expect to win any game this series?