OAKLAND -- Two of the top young pitchers in baseball -- both currently undefeated -- will face off in a Wednesday matinee at the O.co Coliseum when left-hander Martin Perez pitches for the Rangers against right-hander Sonny Gray for the Athletics.
Both are in their first full seasons in the Majors and are quickly making their presence felt. Athletics manager Bob Melvin agreed it is a matchup worth getting excited about.
"No doubt about it," Melvin said. "Two youngsters, one left-handed and one right-handed. They'll probably match up a few times throughout the years coming up, so both of them have really similar numbers. I think they're both undefeated with sub-2.00 ERAs. If you are looking at the matchups for this series, you're probably looking at that one to be the closest as far as pitching matchups go. But you never know and that's why you play the game."
Perez has not allowed a run in 17 consecutive innings after throwing his first career shutout against the White Sox on Friday, holding them to three hits and a walk while striking out eight. In his previous start he pitched eight scoreless innings in beating the Astros. The only Rangers pitcher to ever throw eight-plus scoreless innings in three consecutive starts is Charlie Hough on Aug. 28 to Sept. 7, 1983.
Perez is 2-3 with a 5.79 ERA in five career starts against the Athletics, including 1-1 with a 2.70 ERA in two outings against them last year. Coco Crisp, Yoenis Cespedes, Josh Donaldson and Josh Reddick are a combined 15-for-38 (.394) off Perez in their career.
"I just want to throw strikes and attack the hitters," Perez said. "This is a big game, especially for the pitchers. I just want to stay focused and throw the ball down."
Gray was the Athletics starter on Opening Day and pitched six scoreless innings against the Indians. He left with the game still scoreless and the Indians ended up with a 2-0 victory. Gray followed that up with back-to-back wins over the Mariners and then beat the Astros on Friday while allowing three runs on nine hits, two walks and four strikeouts in six innings.
Gray, who was the 18th overall pick in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft out of Vanderbilt, is now 8-3 with a 2.43 ERA in 14 starts and two relief appearances since first being called up on July 10 of last year. This will be his first career start against the Rangers.
"You just want to go out there and compete and do whatever you can do to compete and come away with a win," Gray said. "Obviously, when you play another team in your division who's been super successful, you have to win those games. Just got to do whatever you can to win those games, whether it's me coming out and throwing a really good game or it's our offense putting up a lot of runs."
Rangers: Chirinos gets all Oakland starts
Robinson Chirinos was in the lineup for the second straight game on Tuesday night and will be behind the plate on Wednesday with Perez on the mound. That means Chirinos will end up starting all three games of the series against the Athletics, but manager Ron Washington is still non-commital about anointing him as the No. 1 catcher over J.P. Arencibia.
"I've got two catchers," Washington said. "I don't have a No. 1 or a No. 2."
Washington said Arencibia will "probably" start on Friday against the Mariners. Arencibia, who was the Opening Day catcher, hasn't started back-to-back games since April 11-12 against the Astros. Since then, Chirinos has started seven of 10 games including Tuesday night. Wednesday will be eight of 11.
"He's doing a pretty good job," Washington said. "He brings a lot of energy, blocks balls well, throws and receives well. He has been doing a good job."
Athletics: Prepare for Rangers running
The Rangers came out trying to run against the Athletics in the first of a three-game series on Monday night. Alex Rios was on first base with one out and Prince Fielder at the plate against pitcher Dan Staily. Rios tried to steal and was thrown out by catcher John Jaso.
The Athletics knew going into this series that the Rangers are one of the most aggressive teams on the basepaths.
"It always comes up in our advanced stuff," Melvin said. "You know they have three or four guys who are going to be aggressive on the bases. Straily did a good job, quick to the plate with Rios. The first time we throw him out, we had a pitch out that we didn't execute very well. But we're aware of it there, they try to push it some. Everybody's aware of that."
• With Shin-Soo Choo sidelined with a sprained left ankle, Michael Choice will likely start in left field on Wednesday. Choice started on Tuesday and this will be the second time he has started in back-to-back games. It will also be the first time he has started with a right-hander on the mound for the opposing team.
• Melvin is planning to give center fielder Coco Crisp a day off on Wednesday. Craig Gentry will likely start with a left-hander on the mound for the Rangers. Gentry played for the Rangers in each of the past five seasons before being traded to the Athletics in the off-season.
• The Rangers could make a roster move before Wednesday game. They may call up an extra outfielder from Triple-A, either Bryan Petersen or Brad Snyder. The Rangers are expected to return pitcher Nick Martinez to the Minor Leagues after his spot start on Tuesday.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.