Chris Perez ruins Justin Masterson’s stellar day

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While he finished with a 3.32 ERA and 36 saves in 40 opportunities, Cleveland’s Chris Perez’s 2011 performance suggested that worse days were on the way. One struck in Thursday’s opener.

Justin Masterson allowed just two hits and struck out 10 in eight innings, only to watch Perez blow a 4-1 lead in the ninth against the Blue Jays.

Masterson was terrific from the get go, allowing just a homer to Jose Bautista while getting 20 of his 24 outs via a K or a groundout. Perez seemed likely enough to protect a three-run lead from there, but he managed to retire just two of the seven hitters he faced while blowing the three-run lead in the ninth.

What’s scary about Perez was the way his strikeout rate fell off last year. He went from fanning 61 guys in 63 innings in 2010 to 39 in 59 2/3 innings last year. Flyball pitchers who don’t get swings and misses simply aren’t very good bets, and Perez’s swing-and-miss rate has deteriorated each year since his debut.

Vinnie Pestano relieved Perez today, got the final out of the ninth to preserve the tie and then pitched a scoreless 10th in a tie game. He had more than twice as many strikeouts as Perez last year, finishing with 84 in 62 innings, and it’d be no surprise if he soon becomes Cleveland’s closer.

Royals outfielder Gordon to retire after 14 seasons

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Kansas City Royals outfielder Alex Gordon, the former first-round pick whose rollercoaster career took him from near bust to All-Star and Gold Glove winner, announced Thursday he will retire after the season.

Gordon was the second overall pick in the 2005 first-year player draft following a standout career at Nebraska, where he won the Golden Spikes Award as the best amateur in baseball. He made his big league debut two years later and, after a few years shuttling back and forth to the minors, moved from third base to the outfield and finally found success.

He wound up playing his entire 14-year career in Kansas City, joining only George Brett and Frank White as position players with that much longevity with the franchise. He heads into a weekend four-game series against Detroit with the third-most walks (682), fourth-most homers (190), fifth-most doubles (357) and sixth-most games played (1,749) in club history.

The three-time All-Star also holds the dubious distinction of being the Royals’ career leader in getting hit by pitches.

While he never quite hit with the kind of average the Royals hoped he would, Gordon did through sheer grit turn himself into one of the best defensive players in the game. He is the only outfielder to earn seven Gold Gloves in a nine-year span, a number that trails only White’s eight for the most in franchise history, and there are enough replays of him crashing into the outfield wall at Kauffman Stadium or throwing out a runner at the plate to run for hours.

Gordon won the first of three defensive player of the year awards in 2014, when he helped Kansas City return to the World Series for the first time since its 1985 championship. The Royals wound up losing to the Giants in a seven-game thriller, but they returned to the Fall Classic the following year and beat the Mets in five games to win the World Series.

It was during the 2015 that Gordon hit one of the iconic homers in Royals history. His tying shot off Mets closer Jeurys Familia in Game 1 forced extra innings, and the Royals won in 14 to set the tone for the rest of the World Series.

Gordon signed a one-year contract to return this season, and he never considered opting out when the coronavirus pandemic caused spring training to be halted and forced Major League Baseball to play a dramatically reduced 60-game schedule.

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