After a solid showing from Corey Kluber and good offensive showing from Nick Swisher and the Cleveland Indians carried a 5-1 lead to almost the end of the game. But these performances were overshadowed in the ninth inning when a Sox rally and another poor showing from the back end of the Tribe’s bullpen resulted in a 6-5 loss on Sunday.
After Bourn singled and stole his eight base of the season to lead off the first, the Indians loaded the bases for Carlos Santana. The star catcher ended up knocking in both Bourn and Kipnis to open an early lead, but was thrown out trying to stretch the hit to a double, ending the inning. After two quiet innings, right fielder Daniel Nava slapped an RBI single in the bottom of the third to score the Sox only run off of Kluber for the afternoon.
The Indians managed to steadily open the lead over the course of the night. Jason Kipnis ripped a solo homer in the fifth. In the sixth, Nick Swisher followed by jacking the baseball over the green monster, continuing what is beginning to seem more and more like a friendly homer competition between the two Tribe infielders. Swish knocked in another run on a sac fly later in the eighth. With an intimidating bullpen mafia set to close the 5-1 lead, it seemed certain that the Wahoos were about to salvage a series split.
But after the Red Sox scored one run off of Cody Allen in the eighth, Chris Perez had a meltdown related to his lingering shoulder pain. He was unable to record the final out in the bottom of the ninth, allowing 2 RBI groundouts and walking three batters. He loaded the bases before he was replaced by Joe Smith, who gave up the walk-off double to Jacoby Ellsbury that sealed a 3-1 series loss for the Tribe, their second in a row. They have now lost 5 of 6 after winning 18 of 22.
Corey Kluber gave up only one run in 6 2/3 innings against one of the better offenses in baseball. He’s actually starting to look like a viable fourth or fifth starter for a contending team.
For the second game in a row, the bullpen cost the Tribe a win. Pestano and Perez have been a huge strength for us the past couple of years. With the starting pitching still considered to be a major question mark by many sports analysts (despite them performing vastly better than expected), the Indians have placed a heavy amount of faith in the setup and closer roles. Not good news.
Michael Bourn was called out for interference to the catcher in the fifth inning when his bunt attempt hit him while he ran for first. It was just a stroke of bad luck that turned a potential baserunner into an out. Jason Kipnis’ 319-foot home run was the shortest out-of-the-park home run in the MLB in nearly three years. Also, why it took Chris Perez seven and a half at-bats to figure out his shoulder was hurting too much to pitch is beyond me. If he had figured it out sooner, we probably wouldn’t have lost the game. There’s no room for stuff like this for an underdog team in a close pennant race.