Ugh.

The Tribe did manage to pull out another victory on Thursday night. But, well, I’m not really sure how the Indians are going to deploy closer Chris Perez from here on out.

With Cleveland in control for the overwhelming majority of the game – the offense jumped on starter Andrew Albers for four runs and tacked on two more against Minnesota’s relief corps – manager Terry Francona turned a 6-to-1 lead over to Perez in the bottom of the ninth.

Perez, who blew the save on Monday night and has posted a 6.11 ERA from August 5th, surrendered a leadoff single to shortstop Eduardo Escobar, a career .228/.280/.307 hitter. Alex Presley followed that up with a triple to deep center, plating Escobar. Brian Dozier grounded out to third as the Indians were willing to trade a run for the out.

Veteran Ryan Doumit singled and Josh Willingham, the club’s most dangerous hitter in the lineup, flied out.

For all that action, the score remained 6-to-3.

Fine.

Except rookie catcher Josmil Pinto lifted a Perez offering past the right field wall for a two-run dinger. And just like that a five-run lead vanished into one.

Joe Smith would put two guys aboard before earning the save.

The offensive stars for Cleveland were, unsurprisingly, Yan Gomes (3-for-4 with two RBIs), Michael Brantley (3-for-5), Ryan Raburn (2-for-4), and Jason Kipnis and Drew Stubbs each had one hit apiece.

The Indians still hold a one game lead over Texas for the second Wild Card spot. So, does Terry Francona continue to run Chris Perez out there or should he turn to someone else? And who??

25 Comments

  • Sean Porter says:

    Make Joe Smith the closer. Use Shaw/Allen/Masterson as the setup guys.

    Leave Perez off the playoff roster.

    • Robert says:

      This would be the most prudent choice. Joe Smith is ready to step from the 8th to the 9th and has the stuff to get the job done.

  • bill says:

    Id be more comfortable with Ryan Raburn pitchingthe 9th than Perez right now

  • phil says:

    I say use Masterson. He needs the work coming back from his injury anyway, so give him the ball in the 9th. This way you’re not messing with the psyche of the other ‘pen guys, putting them in different roles. Setup guys stay setup guys.

    • Robert says:

      Then you’d have to shuffle the deck again in the ALDS when Masterson (hopefully) goes back to starting games.

      • phil says:

        Assuming that a move to the rotation is in the near future for Masterson and assuming we make a deep playoff run, then you’re right and the deck would need shuffled again. But a lot could change in that time. Perez could regain his mind and his form and be an asset instead of a liability or maybe Allen, Smith, or Carrasco are used over the weekend and prove to have what it takes.

        But if we eliminate all assumptions except that we’re going to make a deep run into the postseason, let’s entertain the idea of Masterson as the closer. He has the mental grit to pitch in high pressure situations, as seen during his complete game shutouts. As long as he’s healthy enough, working one inning wouldn’t gas him if he’s needed several nights in a row.

        Shuffling the deck might be unavoidable. I guess I was just saying if we can keep guys where they are and just replace Perez, Masterson might be the best option.

        • Kevin says:

          Salazar

          • phil says:

            Now that’s interesting. Salazar makes some sense in regards to his limited pitch count. But as I said before, I don’t know that I’m up for making big waves in either the rotation or bullpen. We could always plug Masterson in now and once he’s back to 100% throw him in Salazar’s spot and move Salazar to the ‘pen…but man, what a 1-2-3 punch we could have with Masty, Ubaldo, and Salazar in the rotation.

  • Kendall says:

    I agree with Phil on this one… Use Masterson. Anyone but Perez though. We have pretty much every other aspect of our team clicking right now going into the playoffs… I wouldn’t want to mess with that just because we have a horribly inconsistent closer.

  • Gvl Steve says:

    Pulling Perez from the closer’s role – and even leaving him off the playoff roster – is the easy decision. Who to replace him with is the tougher one. Masterson has the mental toughness to do the job, but what if he’s healthy enough to start? A playoff rotation featuring him and Ubaldo 1 and 2 looks pretty good right now. Maybe Smith, maybe Cody Allen. Not much time to figure it out, either. Time to earn your $4M bucks, Terry. Good luck.

    • shaun says:

      yup…i like this. figure it out! stuff happens but we should be winning games like this and not feeling like there was a loss. anyway, its above all of our pay-grades so bottom line, lets get the Ws and get ready for the fun (hopefully). i think it would be cool if there was a google hangout on game day and we can watch together and be generally obnoxious

  • David says:

    The fact that Francona is a ‘player’s manager’ and the reality that GM’s can’t manage ballclubs on fan whims and anger aside. I cannot imagine a worse scenario for fan retention and future attendance than if management decides to roll Perez out in a save situation in the Wild Card game and he implodes. You want to talk about fan backlash. The cost in next year’s gate revenue alone should keep Antonetti and Francona from playing with that bonfire.

    • Kevin says:

      Oh im sorry I thought we won 89 games, still not good enough for Cleveland to show up if we lose the Wild Card game? Come on man, the fact that we’re this far is already success, no matter how much further we go.

  • Jeremy says:

    I was a big CP#54 supporter all season; mainly because I sort of agreed with the article on IPL that CP isn’t as bad as Tribe fans make him out to be. In fact, he’s been pretty good…….but that was before this week. Now is not the time to worry about a guy’s feelings or confidence. If he isn’t getting it done, he isn’t getting it done. CP, unfortunately and for whatever reason, has been utterly atrocious during September. He’s posting like 7.29 or something ERA. wow.

    Joe Smith seems to be the obvious candidate OR you can use a platoon of guys based on match-up. Or…you can hand the ball to Justin Masterson (thanks Victor!) and let him close and hope that (A) he can do the job; and (B) he can get into form that he can possibly start a game if we can make a divisional series.

  • Chris Burnham says:

    Somewhere, Hintz is screaming at his monitor, “CARRASCO! CAAAAAAAAAAAARRAAAAAAAAAAAAASCOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

  • Luis says:

    On a side note, I think tonight is the night when the rays finally lose a game. The rays, Indians, rangers have favorable matchups in all 3 games. The playoffs already started and every game is a must win. It might be crazy but I think we should stick with CP in there. If he gets past this stretch and finds his stuff in october(assuming playoffs). It could build his confidence to elite status.

  • Cale says:

    All closers seem to have funks during the season where they lose confidence, but they seem to gain it back at some point. Jim Johnson is leading the league in saves, and he gave up runs in 4 straight games in early August. Greg Holland has a 1.23 ERA and started the season blowing 2 of his first 3 saves. Even Rivera allowed 5 runs over a 3 game span earlier this year. Perez only gave up one run over his 17 innings in June and July, and his WHIP was only 0.82. He no doubt can still be an effecitve closer (whether for the Indians or not).

    With all that being said, this lapse in confidence has come at the absolute worst time, and he cannot continue to be put out there as closer. I mentioned Holland and Johnson, they both lost a save chance or 2 and worked things out and went on to have good seasons. This the ideal thing to do in this situation, but the Indians do not have the luxury to do this at this point in the season. Leaving him off the playoff roster might be a bit extreme, but he simply can’t be trusted to close a game out until he has somehow worked through this.

  • Tim says:

    This is why you don’t put your closer in when it’s not a save situation. Yesterdays result was a mistep by Francona, not Perez. Perez has been solid all year. Granted he likes to make it interesting, but other than a few bad ball placements he has delivered. If it had been any other pitcher that gave up 4 runs in the 9th and Perez had to come in I’m sure he would have shut them down – because he is a – closer – not a pitcher that comes in with a large lead. Closers need to have that extra adrenaline kick to get it done.

  • Tribe Fan in San Diego says:

    I think the Perez problem is complicated. I think in the past, he got some bad rep, that was unwarrented. However, he has had some meltdowns lately that are inexcusable. In his defense yesterday, he made some pretty dang good pitches that just got hit.

    What really concerns me is that it really seems like CP is “outside” the rest of the team. When was the last time you saw him in the mob after a walk off hit? For example, Giambi’s recent one? I may have missed, it, but I never see him there. He often pitches, then just leaves. That is at least how it seems from a TV perspective. The rest of the team seems to be riding the exciement, and feeding on it. CP seems like a bystander who has isolated himself from the press, fans, and even his team. In some ways I don’t blame him as often as he got boo’d in Cleveland.
    I think if CP is going to get out of this rut, he really needs to become part of the team again.

  • Rocco says:

    Perez has been more lucky then good the last couple of years. Francona must face reality this guy is a detriment. Cleveland hasn’t made the playoffs since 07. So bench Perez or this year was a waste.

  • Rocco says:

    And by the way Perez threw the Cleveland fans under the bus last year. So that is why they boo him. If you’re gonna run your mouth back it up they feel.

  • Weston says:

    No more slack cutting.

  • Josh says:

    Salzar. That K rate is no joke plus they want to keep him on a limited pitch count.

  • mondo dentro says:

    Use Masterson now, to see how he feels. If he can start, platoon Carasco and Salazar as the closers, start Jimenez, Masterson, Kluber, and Kazmir.