Top 12 Games of 2012 (No. 8)

Throughout the fall, we’ll take a look at the top 12 games of 2012. Today, we look at Game No. 8 on our list.

No. 8
Aug. 20:  at Express 2, Oklahoma City 1
In his antepenultimate start with the Express, Martin Perez delivered the best start of his professional career. The left-hander tossed his complete game and used only 97 pitches in the process. The lone run he allowed was unearned, scattering six hits with no walks and five strikeouts. It was the third of his 21 starts in which Perez did not walk a batter.

Consecutive one-out doubles from Luis Hernandez and Matt Kata in the bottom of the first gave the Express a 1-0 lead. Brandon Snyder doubled with two outs in the fifth and later scored on Julio Borbon’s double.

Oklahoma City’s lone run came in the sixth. Oklahoma City catcher Carlos Corporan squibbed a single down the third-base line. Snyder scooped the ball just in front of the bag; his attempt to get Corporan at first skipped away, allowing Corporan to reach second. Two batters later, Jimmy Paredes lined a 2-2 pitch off Perez’s leg. The ball ricocheted into shallow right-center, and Corporan scored.

Perez buckled down from there. He struck out the next batter – J.D. Martinez – on three straight pitches and induced an inning-inning pop-out from cleanup batter Matt Downs. Mike Hessman led off the seventh with a double but was stranded at third.

The RedHawks hardly made Perez work after he was hit by the comebacker. He used only 23 pitches (20 strikes) the rest of the way, retiring 11 of the game’s 13 batters. The lone Oklahoma City hit after Hessman’s double was a Downs one-out bunt single in the ninth. Perez then got consecutive pop-outs from Hessman and Matt Dominguez to end the game.

Of Perez’s 97 pitches, 71 were strikes. The outing came on the heels of a win at Reno in which he held the Pacific Coast League’s top hitting team to one run on six hits over eight innings. It was his fourth victory in a five-start span.

Perez also continued his dominance of Oklahoma City, improving to 3-0 with a 1.23 ERA in three starts against the RedHawks.

Round Rock snapped a three-game losing streak with the win, ending their final skid of at least three games and their lone such slump in the season’s final six weeks. The Express won their next four games, continuing a stretch in which they won 10 of 13 and 15 of 20 games.

No. 9:  Express 10, at New Orleans 0 (April 22)
No. 10:  at Omaha 9, Express 8 (16 innings; April 10)
No. 11:  Express 6, at Oklahoma City 3 (Sept. 1)
No. 12:  Express 14, at Reno 1 (Aug. 15)

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