You have got to be me kidding me.  The first eight innings of the game were exactly what we had hoped for.  Great pitching, a couple timely hits, and great defense usually equal a recipe for success for any team.  The Tribe followed this recipe to a tee up until the 9th inning, and it looked like this was going to be a perfect start to the biggest series of the year thus far for the Tribe…then the 9th inning happened.

Chris Perez absolutely imploded tonight after delivering a string of superb outings after coming off of the disabled list.  However, I must say that part of the blame must be placed on Terry Francona, Mickey Callaway, and/or whoever else was involved in determining whether or not Chris Perez needed a day off today, because he clearly did.  After pitching in each of the last two days, Perez looked off tonight.  His body language alone reminded me of his implosion against Boston on May 26th, when he was placed on the DL soon after the game.  Don’t get me wrong, Perez undoubtedly shoulders a chunk of the blame tonight.  Four earned runs without retiring a batter from your closer simply cannot happen in crucial games/series such as this one.  However, all of this was somewhat avoidable in my eyes.

I’m not one that usually places much blame on the manager/coaches and I really don’t like criticizing Terry Francona based on the incredible job that he’s done with the team this season.  However, tonight I’m forced to question his judgment a little bit.  The manager/coaching staff should know when a pitcher is fatigued or not feeling 100% (especially a reliever that has pitched in back to back games and has additionally had injury problems this season).   Maybe Perez talked Francona and company into letting him pitch tonight, but Francona should have at least pulled him before things started to get out of hand.  It was clear from the first 3 batters that Perez was off and didn’t have it tonight based both on his stuff/command and body language.  If I can recognize that from sitting on my couch at home, at least someone on the coaching staff should have recognized it as well.

It’s unfortunate, because this was otherwise a spectacularly played game for the Tribe.  In my opinion, Corey Kluber turned in his best performance of the season given the offense he was facing.  You can’t ask much more than 7.1 shutout innings against a potent Tigers lineup in the most critical series of the season thus far.  The defense behind Kluber was stellar as well.  There were at least four or five balls that could have gone for hits off of Kluber that the defense turned into outs.  The offense didn’t go much against the electric arm of Anibal Sanchez, but timely RBI hits by Jason Giambi and Carlos Santana gave the Tribe a 2-0 advantage that seemed like it was going to hold up until the 9th inning disaster.  Like I said before, it’s disappointing simply because it was such a well-played game all-around by the Tribe up until the 9th.

Tonight’s loss hurts.  No, it doesn’t mean we’re out of contention and it doesn’t mean we have to completely turn our attention to the wild card just yet.  However, a win tonight would have put us 2 games in back of Detroit with 3 games left to go in the series.  That sounds a heck of a lot better than 4 games behind, as it stands right now.  Now we have to take two out of the next three from Detroit to simply earn a split in the series.  Is it possible?  Sure.  However, that doesn’t make tonight’s loss hurt any less.

26 Comments

  • Chris Burnham says:

    And Perez left before the game ended.

  • Shaun says:

    Unfortunate but a fluky loss nonetheless. I don’t think our boys are going to lay down and take it. We’re in for a real pitching treat the next couple of days

  • medfest says:

    Ouch.

    Great game ,lousy finish.seemed like at least 5000 Tigers fans were there.

    Perez didn’t have anything on the ball but his hand.

    Cabrera is still killing the Tribe in the clean up spot.

    Still glad I went,have to go meditate now……………

  • Gvl Steve says:

    It is devastating to have such a great effort undone by one man, but not all closers can go 3 days in a row, especially ones just off a DL stint for an arm problem. If Pestano was here and 100%, Perez probably isn’t in this game. Cody Allen has been mortal of late but probably should have been the guy tonight. Still, you can’t win EVERY close game. Eventually, this team needs to start putting more than 2 runs on the board. Credit hard luck Kluber with another great performance at home with no win.

  • Kevin Price says:

    “You don’t win games in the American League unless you score 4 or more runs.” Yea, Chris Perez he was bad, yes Terry Francona should have not used him, but if you don’t score 4 runs you should expect to lose and the Indians offense scored two. We lead the MLB in shutout games and Chris Perez closed all(or most) of the close ones so stop please.

  • EvilleMikeD says:

    Agree that we needed to tack on 2 more runs before turning it over to CP in the 9th and missed a chance by not ponce hitting Raburn for ACab with 2 in in the 8th. Rayburn is hot and would have relished a chance to stick it to his former team. ACab is in a serious slump and has been killing potential 2 out rallies lately. Tito should know the stats and adjust accordingly late in the game.

  • Hugh Jass says:

    Here are the 3 things that Francona and company got wrong last night:

    1. Pull Perez after he gives up the single to Martinez. Assuming none of the coaches saw how off Perez was prior to this, this hit made the point obvious.

    2. Yan Gomes should have been behind the plate with Santana as DH. There’s no reason why Giambi needed to be in this lineup. Yes, I love the guy for what he does behind the scenes for this club, but it doesn’t change the fact that we needed the most potent bats in the lineup last night.

    3. Ryan Raburn should also have been in the lineup last night. The guy has been on fire recently and has an axe to grind against his old team. Yes, Stubby had a few good plays out in right, but the guy looked clueless at the plate.

    All this being said, I’m not jumping ship. Mistakes were made last night and fingers can be pointed at management, Perez, even our offense. But there’s still time to right the ship and take/split this series.

    Sometimes you eat the bear, and sometimes the bear eats you.

    • Jeremy says:

      Gotta say I completely agree with everything you said. I’ve been clamoring for Yan to get more time behind the dish for awhile now. Additionally, I’ve been a firm believer in riding the hot hand; if a guy is playing well….keep riding him (they are major leaguers for a reason!). Raburn has been tremendous lately so I don’t see a reason why we shouldn’t keep seeing what we can get out of him on a nightly basis for the time being.

  • Andy says:

    This is Francona at his worst adhering to baseball traditions of a) always using your closer so long as the closer says he feels fine and b) not pulling the closer until he gives up the lead. That game was very important to the Tribe and should have been treated as must win, which means either not bringing in Perez or keeping him on a very short leash. I will wager we lose at least 3 of 4 this series and never contend again this year (including for the second wild card) starting Friday.

  • nikki says:

    Well, on the bright side, at least I have superpowers now, because I’m pretty sure I turned into the Hulk when Perez gave up that bomb.

  • Glenn says:

    Look on the bright side. If Francona keeps bringing in Perez in the 9th inning, we won’t make the playoffs – and then we won’t have to endure the agony of watching him blow us up in the post-season.

  • Cbus Tribe says:

    This is the biggest series of the season so Francona has to go with his go to players, so I don’t fault Francona for going to CP or even sticking with him. If anything I sympathize for him having to rely on a closer that doesn’t have closer stuff or more importantly doesn’t show/express a closer mentality when facing the top teams in baseball. I couldn’t agree more with Ryan that just watching his body language last night reminded me of his blowup against Boston. Not sure how we can win the division when our closer has the worst numbers of all closers in the central, yes even the 3 teams behind us in the standings. I’m not questioning Antonetti but maybe trying to acquire a Jose Veras (who played for worst team in baseball yet still has better numbers than CP too)would have gone a long way bc our Bullpen Mafia is looking more like the finale of The Sopranos.
    Still *gulp* believe in the Tribe!

  • Tribe Fan in San Diego says:

    This was a very dissapointing loss. The big problem is that even when Perez is at 100% he is not extremely overpowering. He is good, but not overpowering. Couple that with a great hitting Team from your own division like the Tigers who has seen him often, and you have trouble. Add in the fact that he seemed tired and you have the disaster we saw last night.

    Hopefully we can win 2/3 or we may find ourselves behind KC.

  • The Doctor says:

    no point in me saying anything else about CP or Francona, since it’s been well covered already. but after looking at cabrera’s stats yesterday i have to harp on this again:

    player A: .244/.300/.396, 8 HR, 41 RBI, 23 BB, 83 K
    player B: .243/.304/.371, 7 HR, 37 RBI, 27 BB, 103 K

    one of these players has been previously referred to by multiple national reporting outlets as the worst everyday outfielder in baseball, with a quad-A bat. this player deservedly bats 9th. the other one of these players is our cleanup hitter.

    players A and B, of course, are asdrubal cabrera and drew stubbs. why on earth is cabrera batting cleanup? i think you could easily make a case that he’s been hurting us there even worse than swisher was.

    • Cale says:

      LaRussa always defied conventional wisdom and hit the pitcher 8th, and he’s a highly regarded manager. Maybe Francona is just some baseball genius and has a plan that includes hitting your worst player 4th in a similar way? Swisher must’ve been heating up, so he had to move him out of the 4-hole.

    • shaun says:

      on the bright side…at least we have options this year!!!

    • The Doctor says:

      good lord, just saw the lineup for today. it’s pretty clear francona hasn’t read “the book” – another day of cabrera at cleanup and gomes batting 9th? now, i’m not going to jump on the “gomes should absolutely be playing everyday” train, but the 9th spot is where you put your worst hitter – and looking at today’s lineup, that’s clearly cabrera! i’d argue he is presently our worst hitter on the team outside of reynolds.

  • EC says:

    In defense of the managers, I would have to say this was as close to October ball as you can get to test Perez and the team on. They’re still in a good position for the wild card, (and sure it’s not in the bag) but there is some ball left to be played and these opportunities don’t arise often.

  • Brokenbones says:

    As a loyal but frustrated Tribe fan for fifty-plus years, I always like to point out the good before the bad. Last night the good was not just good, it was great: Kluber and Brantley, need I say more.

    Sadly the bad could have been avoided if Francona could have resisted adhering to the ridiculous dogma known as baseball’s conventional wisdom (always bring in your closer in the ninth regardless of _____) and if he would have let stats determine his lineup as opposed to…well, not sure what he used in favoring Stubbs over Rayburn and Chiz over, well, I’d even say Aviles (yes, I’d use Aviles at third, he has 2 fewer errors than Chiz in 90 more plays and we need his offense).

    And yes, the otherwise brilliant Francona is entitled to a bad night, problem is that when a manager has a bad night it surfaces in a lot more areas than when a player does (ex.: Stubbs’ mistake in the 4th didn’t hurt us, Francona’s errors cost us the game).

  • Brokenbones says:

    And I certainly hope that the Dolans/Shapiro/Antonettii take notice: Kluber and Brantley, plus Kipnis, are not just key to the present, they’re key to the future. SIGN THEM TO LONG-TERM CONTRACTS NOW!!!!!!

    As it stands right now what you are paying all three combined for the entire 2013 season is less than what you are paying Jimenez for a dozen starts, or two weeks of Bourne, or a month of Acab, or six weeks of Myers or Reynolds – not that some of these guys aren’t worth it, but the Indians need to pay for performance in hopes that it continues on the future. That formula worked pretty well the last (and only) time they tried it. And the other formula – what’s been used in all the other years, has resulted in _______ (fill in the blank with whatever synonym of failure you want).

  • DaveR says:

    I don’t see any signs that point to not pitching Perez there. July 7-14 he was effective 5 out of 7 days. Hindsight says take him out yesterday but not 17 of the last 19 times. How many saves does he have with a couple of hits or walks?

    Anyways, let’s hope for Masterson to get on track vs Detroit.

    • Sean Porter says:

      The only thing that makes me dispute that is that last night was his third game in a row on the mound, and I think his 5th out of 7 days.

      To be honest, I somewhat put last nights game on Francona, not Perez. There seems to be reports that Francona was up in the air about using Perez, and if true, why wasn’t there someone ready to go after Martinez singled in Fielder?

      But you are correct Dave – Perez had been stellar since coming back.

  • Kevin Price says:

    Indians fans don’t deserve Chris Perez if you are gonna trash him this hard.

  • clevelandfan54 says:

    make ubaldo into a closer, remember dennis eck??

    • lidopete says:

      Ubaldo simply does not have the mindset to close. He comes apart in most stressfull situations, in my opinion

  • Kevin Brown says:

    Let’s just admit the Tigers have permanently taken up residence inside the Indians head. They can’t beat Detroit, and Detroit knows it. The Tigers are 10-3 against the Tribe this year, and own them. It is that simple. After last night, this will only get uglier for the Tribe.