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.
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??