First Pitch: 3:05 pm CDT
TV: Bally Sports North / ~ / Radio: TIBN
Old friend, why are you so shy?
Well, Martin Perez has been neither holding back nor hiding from the light this season, which will likely lead to his first-ever All-Star selection. The former Twin has a 165 ERA+ in exactly 100 innings so far this season, where he’s been limiting homers and walks at a career-best rate. It’s a bit of a far cry from his 2019 season with the Bomba Squad, in which he posted a 5.12 ERA in 29 starts.
The Rangers were Perez’s original team, of course; he debuted as a 21-year-old swingman in 2012, having been signed as an international free agent all the way back in 2007. Parts of seven seasons with the Rangers led to a one-year deal with Minnesota, which led to a pair of campaigns — one shortened, one regular-sized — with the Boston Red Sox, the latter of which provided Perez with his first in-game playoff action since 2015 against the Blue Jays. (Perez has a career 9.00 postseason ERA in eight innings.)
Now he’s back and better than ever with his original team, who may well wind up trading him away anyway; Perez is on an expiring deal and there’s always playoff contenders interested in pitching. The real question is, are we looking at the new Martin Perez? Or is he simply getting all the right breaks en route to the season of his life?
The Twins lineup will try to upset his solid season. Meanwhile, they’ll try to keep squeezing some magic out of Devin Smeltzer, who reached double-digit starts after his last outing for the first time in his major-league career. In fact, this afternoon will mark his 30th appearance ever on a major-league mound.
Smeltz has strung together three straight quality starts; six shutout innings against Cleveland, six innings and nine strikeouts at Progressive Field a few days later, and six innings of three-run ball in a loss to Baltimore on July 3rd. He’s only had one dud this season — against Arizona — so hopefully the Texan heat will not induce flashbacks.
And speaking of looking back, hey, Cleveland! How’s it going down there?
The Twins remain the only team in the Central with a winning record; the Guardians have slipped to 40-41, and are nearly five games back again. The White Sox can’t seem to win at home, and they remain a few percentage points shy of .500. I would love nothing more than for them to slip behind the Detroit Tigers.
All in due time. For now, the Twins have a series to even. You’ll be happy to know that Byron Buxton is back in the lineup, even after his aggressive catch in deep center last night.
He gets DH duty, and Kyle Garlick gets the 3-hole against Perez. GO TWINS GO!