Eury Perez didn’t think this moment would come as early as it did.
A little less than a year ago, Perez was in Los Angeles to take part in the MLB Futures Game and went to a party hosted by his agency. Also attending that party: Los Angeles Angels superstar Shohei Ohtani. At that moment, Perez immediately knew he needed to take a picture with him.
“He’s my best friend,” Perez said Saturday with a laugh, adding “I really admire him. He’s such an amazing talent. And I took the picture thinking that it was gonna take me a lot of time to meet him again.”
It only took 10 months for their paths to cross again.
Perez, the Marlins’ top prospect, made his fourth MLB start on Sunday in the Marlins’ 2-0 win over the Angels to secure a series sweep.
The 6-8 righty, just 20 years old, tossed five shutout innings, working around two hits and four walks while striking out three to pick up his second MLB win. Miami improved to 28-26 on the season and went 5-5 on this three-city, 10-game road trip. The Angels fall to 28-26.
One of those three strikeouts: Ohtani, who whiffed on an 82 mph curveball to end a perfect first inning. Perez also struck out Mike Trout to end a one-two-three third inning.
(Ohtani, of course, also had one of the two hits against Perez with a single to right field in the fourth inning).
“Emotions were very high,” Perez said postgame. “Facing batters like them is unbelievable. I was just enjoying every at-bat, every pitch and giving all I got.”
Perez, however, had to work out of a pair of jams for his spotless outing.
And in the fifth, Perez issued back-to-back one-out walks to Ward and Livan Soto, but eliminated the threat by getting Mickey Moniak to hit into a force out and Trout to fly out to left.
Perez threw 79 pitches, 45 of which landed for strikes.
“He did enough,” Marlins manager Skip Schumaker said. “He got some big outs in some big moments with some really good hitters. You saw him clapping when he got them out and was super excited. You forget that he’s 20 years old. Striking out Trout and Ohtani is probably one of his highlights of his early career. I was certainly happy with it.”
Through four MLB starts, Perez has a 2.84 ERA, giving up six earned runs on 13 hits and 10 walks while striking out 19 over 19 innings of work. Opponents are hitting just .188 against him.
“My confidence with every pitch I’m throwing is really high right now,” Perez said. The confidence the team has given me also helps me a lot every time I go out there because they have shown me I’m part of the team.”
Five relievers — Steven Okert (2/3 innings), Matt Barnes (1/3 inning), Andrew Nardi (2/3 inning), Tanner Scott (1 1/3 inning) and JT Chargois (1 inning) combined to toss four shutout innings after Perez. Chargois logged the first save of his MLB career by stranding two runners in scoring position when he got Trout to pop out to second baseman Luis Arraez.
The Marlins gave Perez all the run support he needed on a Nick Fortes solo home run in the third and a Jean Segura RBI single in the sixth, which came after the Angels intentionally walked Yuli Gurriel to get to Segura.
Fortes had three hits on Sunday. Arraez reached base three times (two singles, one hit by pitch) and scored on Segura’s sixth-inning single.
After an off day Monday, the Marlins will play nine consecutive games at home. It starts with a three-game series against the San Diego Padres before facing a pair of American League teams in the Oakland Athletics and Kansas City Royals.