The Angels' young catcher made his Major League debut on Tuesday afternoon and became the hero by Tuesday night, hitting a walk-off home run to send the Angels to a 5-4 victory over the Mariners at Angel Stadium.
With the score tied at 4, Perez led off the bottom of the ninth and lined an 0-1 slider off Dominic Leone just over the left-field fence, snapping the Angels' four-game losing streak.
"It's a great moment," Perez said in Spanish. "First and foremost, it's great that we got the win. You couldn't have expected anything like this."
Perez became the fourth player in Major League history to hit a walk-off homer in his Major League debut and the first since Miguel Cabrera, for the Marlins, on June 20, 2003. Leone said he hung the slider to Perez in giving up his second straight walk-off loss, having taken the defeat in the 10th inning in Houston on Thursday, as well.
"It's unacceptable, especially after this team was fighting and battling, trying to win some games," Leone said. "You come in and give them that and it's unacceptable by me. I'll be the one who wears this one."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Signs of life: The Angels' offense entered the game ranked 29th in the Majors in OPS and had been held to just eight runs on 24 hits over the last four games, but they responded after falling behind in the top of the eighth. After Albert Pujols dumped a one-out single into shallow right field and David Freese walked, Erick Aybar laced a base hit to right to pull the Angels within one and Giavotella hit a grounder that snuck through the left side to tie the game.
"We had really good at-bats tonight," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "We smoked some balls with not a lot to show for it."
Zunino delivers: It's been a rough season at the plate for Mike Zunino, but the Mariners catcher came up big with a pair of RBI hits. Zunino was hitting just .139 coming in, but his run-scoring single in the second got Seattle on the board, and he laced an opposite-field ground-rule double to key a three-run rally that gave Seattle a 4-2 lead in the eighth.
"We had extra BP today, and that was a main focus -- get in a good position to hit early [and go the other way]," Zunino said. "To be able to do that and hit two balls that way felt good."
Coming all the way back: Trailing in the count, 3-0, with the bases loaded, two outs and the Angels clinging to a 2-1 lead, Garrett Richards threw three straight strikes to Dustin Ackley to end the sixth. The 26-year-old right-hander then came back out for the seventh, despite having 101 pitches under his belt, and got through it with only 12 pitches, capping seven innings of one-run ball to outduel James Paxton (two runs in seven innings). Richards has done a good job maintaining his stuff all year. More >
Keep borrowing the boomstick: Logan Morrison went 3-for-3 with a pair of doubles and a walk to continue his hot streak since borrowing one of Mariners teammate Nelson Cruz's bats. Since he started using the new stick, Morrison has gone 13-for-26 with three doubles, a triple and three home runs in seven games while raising his batting average from .149 to .247. LoMo doubled and scored on Zunino's base hit -- beating the throw from center fielder Mike Trout -- for Seattle's first run in the second inning.
"We had a good amount on him. We can get stuff from the Minors. I thought we made some good pitches. He got on top of a fastball in his first at-bat and was able to single it. That one he got a hanging breaking ball and put a good swing on it. He had a good swing and we just made a mistake." -- Zunino, on facing Perez in his MLB debut
"Anytime a guy performs, obviously he's going to earn more playing time. But we're going to need both those guys. We're going to need Chris [Iannetta]. ... Carlos is going to get his opportunities and Chris will get his opportunities. We're going to need them both." -- Scioscia, on how much playing time Perez will get after his big home run
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
• Pujols' first-inning two-run homer carried plenty of symmetry. It was his fifth home run of the year, the 525th of his career, and it came on the fifth day of the fifth month of 2015. Oh, and Pujols wears No. 5.
• Though Major League home run leader Cruz didn't go deep in an 0-for-4 outing, he remains tied for the most homers in the first 27 games of a season by any player and he's got some pretty good company. The six others to do that are Cy Williams (1923 Phillies), Willie Mays (1964 Giants), Mike Schmidt (1976 Phillies), Luis Gonzalez (2001 D-backs), Pujols (2006 Cardinals) and Alex Rodriguez (2007 Yankees).
In honor of Cinco de Mayo, the Angels broke another Guinness World Record on Tuesday, this one for largest gathering of people in sombreros. It was the sixth straight year the Angels have set a Guinness World Record. They've previously done it for largest gathering of people wearing fleece blankets (2010), costumed masks (2011), cowboy hats, "rally wigs" and Santa hats.
WHAT'S NEXT Mariners: Left-hander Roenis Elias (0-1, 3.86 ERA) makes his third start in place of injured veteran Hisashi Iwakuma in Wednesday's 7:05 p.m. PT series finale at Angel Stadium. Elias was 0-2 with a 5.65 ERA in three outings against the Halos last year as a rookie.
Angels: Fellow lefty C.J. Wilson opposes Elias, hoping to build off a Friday start against the Giants in which he gave up just two runs (one earned) on four hits and one walk in seven innings. Wilson had fluid drained from his elbow prior to that outing and felt much better.