Perez blown save leads to a Detroit 4-2 win
Kluber brilliant, but Perez falls flat when it matters the most
CLEVELAND—In a city known for its heartbreak, the main act was on full display Monday night at Progressive Field.
With the Indians clinging to a 2-0 lead in the ninth inning, Detroit scored four unanswered runs off closer Chris Perez capped off by a three-run homer by catcher Alex Avila to comeback and stun the Tribe, 4-2. The win sends the Tigers to their ninth straight victory and 13th over the last 14 games.
“That’s the top of the division,” Indians center fielder Michael Bourn said. “If we want to be at the top, we got to be able to knock them off. We can’t depend on whoever it is out there to knock them off and think we’re going to win the division, we got to do it ourselves.”
Cleveland (62-50) falls four games behind the Tigers for first place in the Central Division with the loss, as the team has dropped nine of their last 10 to their rivals.
“We got to win those games that’s how I look at it,” Bourn said. “That’s a swing game. Against this team we can’t miss opportunities.”
There would be no missed opportunity on the starting pitching side of things, as the Indians got another standout outing from starter Corey Kluber (7-5, 3.54 ERA). The 27-year-old right-hander tossed 7 1/3 scoreless innings surrendering just six hits to the powerhouse Tigers offense.
“He was unbelievable,” Bourn said. “He kept them off balance and he shut a great offensive team out. That doesn’t happen every day.”
Despite another great outing, Kluber has now just one win in his last six starts owning a 1.97 ERA. The Tribe had won each of his last six home starts prior to his tough no decision bid Monday.
Offensively, Cleveland got the ball rolling early off Tigers starter Anibal Sanchez (9-7, 2.58 ERA) who also was brilliant on the rubber. Designated hitter Jason Giambi gave the Indians their first run of the ballgame with a two out RBI single up the middle in the second inning.
The team added another clutch two out hit in the fourth, as catcher Carlos Santana connected on a RBI double to put the Wahoo’s up 2-0.
“Sometimes we get the two outs quick, but we keep the inning going which is something I think we do very well,” Tribe manager Terry Francona said.
That would be it offensively though as Sanchez spun a gem of his own, yielding just those two runs on four hits in 7 2/3 innings while also striking out 11. Cleveland falls to 12-35 when scoring three runs or less on the year.
Sidearm right-hander Joe Smith relieved Kluber in the eighth before Francona called for his closer to pitch the ninth inning with the Indians up by two.
Perez would not record an out, serving up a leadoff double to Prince Fielder before former Indian Victor Martinez put Detroit on the board with a RBI single. After a walk to outfielder Andy Dirks, catcher Alex Avila hitting below the Mendoza line slugged a three run home run to the bleachers.
“His first at-bat he hit the ball to left-center,” Francona said. “I turned to Millsy [Brad Mills] when he hit that and I said, ‘When he hits the ball that direction, it makes me nervous,’ and he ended up jumping on a ball that way.”
Perez was 2-0 with 0.95 ERA over his last 19 innings since returning from the disabled list before Monday night’s disaster. He also was a perfect 11-for-11 in save opportunities, not having blown a save since May 18.
The Tribe closer was a no show for a postgame interview following his loss.
“It’s not the end of the world and it’s not the end of the season, but we want those games,” Bourn said. “I’ve played in playoff games before and it was a playoff atmosphere, both teams knew it.”
Even after winning 10 of their last 11 before the ballgame, the Indians are now just 3-10 on the season against Detroit.
“It hurt, but we’ll show up tomorrow,” Francona said. “We certainly need to be resilient and we’ve shown that before.”
Bourn agreed, as he hoped the team takes another snooze this time for the better.
“The only thing you can do is go to sleep and wake up tomorrow and it’s a new day,” Bourn said. “This one was a tough one, I think it’s one of the tougher ones of the year, we’ll see how we respond tomorrow and it will show what kind of team we are.”
Notes: Monday marked the third time over the last three seasons that Perez converted a blown save on August 5…The loss was just the second game the Indians have lost when holding a lead after eight innings, as the club now owns a 51-2 record in those games.
Follow Jim on Twitter @JBirdman27 or he can be reached via email at email@example.com.
I know Allen can be erratic and it would have been a tough spot for him, but I would have lived or died with his stuff based on how poorly Perez was throwing and the fact that you had to throw your best out there. Based on how Perez was throwing, he did not have it. Perhaps Francona didn't know it, but that first night in Miami where Perez had to work as hard as he did, plus went again yesterday, I wasn't fond of him coming out tonight, then seeing how he was throwing, I would have brought in Allen, unorthodox or not.
The key for tomorrow is for Masty to set the tone and not try too hard to make up for tonight's disappointing loss. Plus, make Verlander work hard and hope his recent string of erratic command and hittable pitches continues. If Salazar is on, he can shut down that Tiger offense, then have McAllister, who seems to be settling in, in game 4. Series isn't over yet, and wallowing in self-pity isn't going to solve anything. Let's face it: The Tigers have had a lot of things go right for them this year, which is why the season series is so lop-sided; the truth is these teams are much closer than that, more so than last year when the Indians won the season series- the Tigers have had the breaks or that one play go their way in 3-5 of these games- most of these games have been quite close. The Indians can't get caught up in that- they need to keep playing like they have been, minus the Perez blow-up: You outpitch and outplay a team on defense, and more times than not, you will beat them, no matter who it is. The Indians just need to keep plugging - there's still two months left, and the tide has got to start turning in our favor at some point; 3-5 of these games this year, one play or one inning that had gone in our favor, and that season series would be closer or even in our favor. We're close- just keep plugging.
That 9th inning was a huge shift in momentum
3 outs from being in a nice position quickly shifted into being in a bad position
Perez was due for a meltdown, and it came at probably the worst time it could had currently