I wrote yesterday afternoon about how the Indians were sticking with Chris Perez as closer despite his struggles over the past two months. And then last night I went to the Twins-Indians game at Target Field and watched as Cleveland manager Terry Francona brought Perez into a 6-1 game in the ninth inning to get him some work following a blown save earlier this week.
I turned to the person next to me and predicted “Perez is definitely going to make this very interesting.” I also tried to get them to give me 20-to-1 odds on the Twins winning the game despite being down five runs with three outs to go, but apparently not everyone will gamble on everything.
Anyway, sure enough Perez coughed up four runs on four hits, including a homer, before being yanked with one out left to get and the gap closed to 6-5. Joe Smith came in and closed out the win, but Perez saw his ERA balloon to 4.33 and he’s now allowed 17 runs in 20.1 innings since August 1. Cleveland looks headed to the playoffs, but it’s hard to imagine the Indians making a run unless Perez turns things around or Francona changes his mind about the ninth inning.
Pirates outfielder Starling Marte is back in the lineup after the team reinstated him from the 10-day disabled list on Saturday. Marte served the bare minimum on the DL after making a rapid recovery from the right oblique strain that sidelined him several weeks ago.
Prior to landing on the disabled list, the 29-year-old outfielder was off to a strong start. He slashed a robust .308/.366/.503 with six home runs, 10 stolen bases and an .869 OPS in 175 plate appearances with the team. This is the first time he’s dealt with an oblique issue, and the first DL stint he’s served since he suffered a bout of back tightness in 2016. While he has yet to prove he can bounce back to his pre-injury production levels, his quick recovery bodes well for a successful return to major-league play.
In a corresponding move, outfielder Jose Osuna was optioned to Triple-A Indianapolis. The move came as somewhat of a surprise, given that the Pirates elected to retain top prospect outfielder Austin Meadows rather than the more established Osuna. Meadows was recalled from Triple-A in the wake of Marte’s injury and has only played seven games at the major league level so far, but he’s already made a strong impression: he went 13-for-29 with three home runs, two stolen bases and five RBI since his call-up on May 18.