Jays' Perez blank A’s

Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Luis Perez winds up during the fourth inning against the Oakland...

Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Luis Perez winds up during the fourth inning against the Oakland Athletics in Oakland, California, August 21, 2011. (REUTERS/Beck Diefenbach)

KEN FIDLIN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:20 AM ET

OAKLAND - Luis Perez had been looking forward to this day his whole life. He didn’t disappoint himself.

Making his first major-league start, the 26-year-old lefthander took a perfect game into the sixth inning against the Oakland Athletics. He lost the perfecto when he walked Cliff Pennington to lead off the sixth. He later lost the no-hitter when Jemile Weeks grounded a single up the middle.

But he didn’t lose the game or his composure. He induced an inning-ending groundball for a double play to preserve the scoreless tie and then Jose Bautista belted his 36th homer leading off the seventh to give him a 1-0 victory he’ll remember the rest of his life.

Perez, who hadn’t pitched more than four innings since May 15, has been used largely in relief since being called to the big leagues, but when Brad Mills was found wanting, the Jays decided to reward Perez for his good work in the bullpen.

He responded by erasing the first 15 men he faced by throwing strikes with all his pitches, working the corners and keeping the A’s hitters off balance. In that sixth inning, Oakland loaded the bases with one out.

“Mentally I stayed strong,” said Perez. “Each inning I was throwing better and better.

“I’m happy they had the confidence in me to pitch with the bases loaded.”

Manager John Farrell could easily have gone to the bullpen and perhaps should have, after Weeks grounded a single, Oakland’s first and only hit, up the middle but he let Perez pitch to Coco Crisp, who hit into a 6-4-3 double play to end the threat.

Casey Janssen picked up Perez out of the bullpen and worked three hitless innings, striking out five for his second save of the season.

Janssen was ready in the bottom of the sixth but Farrell decided to stay with his rookie in a bases-loaded, one out situation because of his hard sinker and the potential to turn a double play.

“Luis comes out, making his first major league start and retires the first 15 men he faces, then gets in a little bit of a situation: bases loaded, one out,” said Farrell. “Because he has such a good sinker, we had a chance to turn a key double play to keep the score knotted at zero.

“Both Weeks and Coco are better against righthanded pitching. Luis still had good life, good late action, down in the strike zone. In that situation he was still just one pitch away.”

Bautista led off the seventh with a 10-pitch at-bat against A’s starter Guillermo Moscoso. Bautista punctuated that at-bat by drilling a full-count slider on a line into the seats in left for the only run Toronto would get, or need, this day.

“I was having trouble with (Moscoso’s) fastball all game long,” said Bautista. “It was sneaky. I was surprised he went to the breaking ball there and luckily for me, he hung it. I was still out front a little but I hit it well enough to go out.”

Farrell marvelled at what a complete player Bautista has become.

“It wasn’t just the home run or the entire at-bat. The number of foul balls before Jose drove the 3-2 slider out of the park,” said Farrell. “But also two defensive plays in right field, one going into the gap on his backhand and the other on a bloop where he gets a great read and a great jump to keep the perfect game alive.”

Moscoso gave up just three Toronto hits over eight strong innings. Aaron Hill led off the first with a single and Toronto didn’t get another hit until J.P. Arencibia led off the sixth with a double that centrefielder Coco Crisp misjudged.

Perez ended up throwing 80 pitches, which was 19 more than he threw last Tuesday in Seattle in four innings of relief of Mills. Once again, he displayed the calm, confident demeanour that was instrumental in Farrell giving him this opportunity.

“The composure is what we’ve seen pretty much every time he walks to the mound but with three pitches he threw for strikes, with that heavy fastball, he’s a tough guy to square up.”

“He was throwing strikes, his ball was really moving,” said catcher J.P. Arencibia. “He was throwing his slider down and in. With his sink, the guys were just beating it into the ground and the guys were playing well behind him. If he was going to get beat, he was going to get beat attacking guys.”

In the final analysis, Perez didn’t get beat by anything or anyone on his big day.


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