Friday night's 3-2 victory against the Braves provided the Phillies manager with such a time, as Manuel selected left-hander Juan Perez in the 10th inning from a patchwork bullpen with three of its veteran late-inning arms on the disabled list. Perez entered with the score tied at 2 in the first game of a three-game series between the top two teams in the National League.
Perez, 32, who was making just his third appearance and first since June 24, was called up from Triple-A Lehigh Valley on June 23 when Jose Contreras returned to the disabled list for the second time this season. When Raul Ibanez roped a walk-off home run, Perez earned his first Major League win and became the first Phillies pitcher to strike out the side on nine pitches since Andy Ashby on June 15, 1991.
"I got a lot of faith in God, and I thought that if I stayed in the game at some point, it's gonna happen," Perez said through third-base coach and translator Juan Samuel.
What is it Manuel remembered about Perez in Spring Training?
"He threw pretty good, but his command wasn't what you call really good," said Manuel, who would've sent Perez out for a second inning had it gone past 10 innings. "But he's got good stuff."
Perez came on to start the 10th and struck out Jason Heyward, Nate McLouth and Wilkin Ramirez, inducing five called strikes and four swinging strikes.
"That tells you that slider was no joke," Ibanez said.
Perez's opportunities thus far have been few.
Performances like Friday's in the biggest series of the season to this point may lead to more.
Nate Mink is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less