Martin Perez was a bright spot in an otherwise dark night for the Boston Red Sox.
And fortunately for the Red Sox, it’s grown to be a theme ever since Perez’ rocky debut with the organization.
In his last three starts, Perez has thrown 5 2/3 innings twice, the most recently being in Tuesday’s 8-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays, where Boston’s bullpen gave up six runs in the seventh inning.
Perez allowed three hits with five strikeouts, throwing 57 of his season-high 94 pitches for strikes. In his most recent three starts, Perez has now allowed four earned runs on nine hits in 15 2/3 innings.
It’s earned some well-deserving praise from Red Sox manager Ron Roenicke.
“Good command. Other than the home run to leadoff, I thought he pitched great,” Roenicke told reporters on his video conference after the loss.
“Great change up, fastballs in, cutters in, threw some curveballs. But the change up and fastball, I thought were outstanding,” Roenicke continued. “And he battles well. He kept us in the game. You figure if he keeps us in the game like that, we’re going to be able to get a lead somewhere, and we weren’t able to do it.”
Perez exited the contest one out shy of six complete innings, which would have been the most he’s pitched in a Red Sox uniform. He did, however, record more pitches (94) and more swing and misses (10) than he had in any other game with Boston, according to The Athletic’s Jen McCaffrey.
A major reason behind that success, both Tuesday and prior, has been due to his ability to command the zone, with his change up becoming among his most deadly pitches. He threw 31 of them in Tuesday’s outing, according to the Boston Globe’s Alex Speier.
“Shoot, they don’t hit the ball hard when I throw my change up, I don’t need to change,” Perez told reporters postgame. “… I’m feeling good with that pitch and I’m going to continue to throw it every time and to get quick outs, but I think with all other pitches too.
“Everything was good today. I was able to throw my breaking ball for strikes, cutter was really good, too. But change is always right there, that’s where I focus every time, throw the pitch down and it’s going to be hard for hitters to hit that pitch.”
Here are some other notes from Tuesday’s contest:
— Roenicke admitted it was tough to see the game unravel like it did when the bullpen took over in the seventh inning. After all, the Red Sox had kept it close with the 10-win Rays through six innings, and were hoping to find the bats to give them another shot at a win.
“Well, it is (tough to see there),” Roenicke said. “We played a really good game for six innings. We didn’t swing it again, but it was a really good ball game until then. … It turned into a bad game. So you don’t want to see that.
He added a pretty blunt summary of where things stand, as well.
“We’ve got to figure this out,” Roenicke added “… We know we’re playing some tough teams. We know if we play this way, we’re not going to win many games. And that’s hard. We’ve got to figure out a way to pitch well, and like you said, time it up with a good offense.”
— Andrew Benintendi recorded his first multi-hit game of the season against the Rays, making the most of his mark in the leadoff spot.
Benintendi slapped lead-off singles in both the first and third innings while reaching base for the third time on the night in the eighth when he was hit by a pitch.
For Roenicke, Benintendi’s performance was a welcome sign, especially after the 26-year-old outfielder’s struggles previously (two hits in 36 at-bats before Tuesday).
“… There’s a couple guys that were better, so that’s good,” Roenicke said. “Benny (Benintendi) getting a couple hits was good, other than that, just tough game.”
— Roenicke announced the starter for Thursday’s series finale against the Rays, and it’s Kyle Hart.
“He’s been throwing the ball really well, so hopefully we get a good start out of him,” Roenicke said.
The Red Sox will return to Fenway Park to host the Rays in the third game of their four-game series Wednesday. The game will begin at 7:30 p.m. ET on NESN.