A month ago the Indians hosted the Detroit Tigers in the opening of a series at home. They fell on their face, as we reviewed here.
Last night the Indians took at 2-0 lead into the 9th inning. Though they only had 5 hits to Detroit’s 8. Chris Perez, pictured above following the big blow, the Indians looked poised to not repeat what happened a month ago. On came Perez for his 3rd day in a row to get the final 3 outs. As the inning was beginning it was notable that Joe Smith had ended the 8th getting Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera out, Perez would not have to face him in the 9th. In order Perez gave up a double, single, walk and 3 run home run. The double to Prince Fielder and single to Victor Martinez were not back breaking, as both are quality hitters and the Tribe still led 2-1. Walking Andy Dirks, he of a .248 batting average, and the home run to Alex Avila who is batting .199, were both unacceptable. The inning went on for awhile and the Tribe bullpen did end up having to face Cabrera but at that point intentionally walked him.
Thankfully for the Indians this is a 4 game series and they can still take the series and cut into the lead in the AL Central, but it may be tough. Today Detroit send Justin Verlander to the mound to face Tribe ace Justin Masterson. Today’s blame can be placed on the shoulders of Perez and manager Terry Francona. Starting pitcher Corey Kluber pitched 7 and a third giving up 6 hits and no runs for another solid pitching outing by the starting rotation. The lineup struggled but cobbled together 2 runs on 5 hits that could of been enough without the 9th inning perils.
The good news for Cleveland is there is another game, and its today. They need to show an ability to beat quality teams that has alluded them all year.