The Cleveland Indians have a problem on their hands with the sudden self-implosion of closer Chris Perez. After last night’s near catastrophic victory in which Perez allowed four runs to cross the plate in the bottom of the ninth and cut a 6-1 lead to a 6-5 lead, some serious changes may be in order whether Terry Francona wants to admit it or not.
Zach McAllister lasted only 4.2 innings last night but allowed no runs while surrendering six and two walks and striking out three. It was McAllisters shortest start of the season with only 68 pitches thrown. Apparently the move to come out of the game was his own as he began experiencing minor soreness to his left side. That is something to keep an eye on as the Indians are still trying to work Justin Masterson back into the swing of things.
The Indians got the scoring started in the top of the fourth on Thursday night. Ryan Raburn came around to score the first run of the game on a fielding error by the Twins on an Asdrubal Cabrera sacrifice. Yan Gomes followed with a titanic two run homer that hit off the facing of the second deck in left field. The shot put the Tribe up 3-0 and made it appear that the Indians were well on their way to another victory, their 7th straight. They would add three more runs to their total, one each in the sixth, seventh, and eighth innings thanks to Michael Brantley, Carlos Santana, and Michael Brantley again.
However, the majority of the focus from last night’s game was Perez.
After the near disaster on Tuesday night against the White Sox, Terry Francona put Perez in the game to get him some work and figure things out with a five run lead. Unfortunately, it just didn’t work out as planned. Perez allowed four runs to cross the plate on four hits, one of which was a two run opposite field home run to Josmil Pinto. It was that ninth home run of the year allowed by Perez and continues a disturbing trend of baseballs leaving the yard against the Indians closer.
Joe Smith eventually came into the game to pick up the save, his third of the season.
After the game Terry Francona would not rush to make a decision regarding his closer. However, reports indicate that Perez told Francona afterwards that he doesn’t want to cost the Indians any games headed down the stretch. Clearly his confidence is shot right now and a change is probably in order. However, Francona is a tremendously loyal guy and may not be prepared to make a decision as monumental as naming a new closer.