The Indians had just two games left entering last night’s tilt. You know how on those day games before a team hits the road for a long trip, they usually swing the bats as if they can’t wait to get out of town? Well both the Indians and the White Sox spent last night playing like it was one of those times. “Getaway Day At-bats” littered this game.
The Sox starter Jake Peavy dominated an Indians lineup that looked like they didn’t want any part of playing in this one. Other than Shin-Soo Choo’s solo homer in the fourth and a Jason Kipnis seventh inning walk, Peavy was perfect. The former NL Cy Young winner knifed through the Tribe with ease. On the other side was Justin Masterson, who was making the last start of his worst season as a pro. He avoided his 16th loss by matching Peavy pitch for pitch. He went six, giving up just one run on four hits. The outing saved him from an ERA above five. In fact, the game was tied at one heading into the ninth inning.
And here is where we get to closer Chris Perez.
Earlier in the day, the man who likes to tell it like it is, decided now was a good time to let everyone know that he would love to return to the Indians next year, now that Manny Acta is no longer the manager.
“They don’t know the whole story,” Perez said. “A lot of frustration from those comments, a lot of that walked out the door last week. I’ll just leave it at that,” a veiled shot at Acta.
But wait, there’s more.
The Manny you guys (reporters) saw and the Manny we saw were different guys. He’s not a very confrontational person. In this game we’re men. We can handle it. Sometimes we need a kick in the butt. He did it this year, but it was a couple of weeks too late.
Last year we didn’t get it at all. He only gave us two speeches, one at the start of the season and one at the end and we were playing for first place up until September.”
It sounds like a cliche, but a team does follow its manager, good or bad. If a manager has no activity on the field. If he doesn’t argue calls or get upset, why would his team?”
When told that under Acta, the Indians were in first place for more days than any other team in the division the last two seasons, he said ”A broken clock is right twice a day. It’s nice being in first place, but it’s not where you start, it’s where you finish.”
He wasn’t done. CP went on to question Acta’s in-game managerial tactics.
It’s May and there are only 150 games left. Why use the whole bullpen against Detroit when we’re going to play them 15 more times?
We’re a family. We’re together so much. It was just a weird dynamic. I have a great deal of respect for Manny. From what he’s accomplished and the charity work he does. I just disagree with some of his baseball tactics and strategies and how he runs the ship.
Perez then said that Acta should have been fired in during “The Streak” which killed the season. He preferred that Acta was the man who had lost his job, not pitching coach Scott Radinsky, who was thrown to the wolves instead.
Obviously, Perez said a mouthful. He also clearly has zero respect for the front office while he continues to fly off the handle with his verbal diarrhea. But its OK, because he wants to be back next year!
In case you are scoring at home, Rage has now thrown his teammates, the fans, ownership, the front office, and now his ex-manager under the bus.
So in the ninth inning of a tie game, Sandy Alomar Jr. turned to Perez. He walked the first man he faced, Dan Johnson, and then watched as Dayan Viciedo tattooed a 426-foot, two-run homer to give the Sox a 3-1 lead. CP put two more men on before retiring the side.
The Tribe still had a one last chance against Peavy, who they hadn’t touched all game. This recap was done and written. The working title was “Perez Opens Up His Big Mouth Again, Then Fails His Preferred Manager On the Field.” Here is where it changed.
Pinch hitter Michael Brantley reached on a bloop single to center. Lou Marson was the scheduled hitter, but instead Sandy called for old friend Travis Hafner to pinch hit. Pronk’s time with the Indians has come to an end, so why not, for old times sake, give him one last day in the sun. Sox manager Robin Ventura had lefty Donnie Veal ready to face Hafner, Choo, and Kipnis, but left Peavy in there, completely understandable considering how good he had been all night.
Hafner, in what will most likely be one of his last at-bats in Wahoo Red, White, and Blue, channeled his 2004-2007 form. He crushed a two-run, game-tying bomb off the right-field foul pole. Here was White Sox TV play by play man Hawk Harrelson’s call of Hafner’s swing:
(crack) “uh oh………….. (15 seconds of dead silence)…….three runs on three hits……… (15 seconds of silence)….. dag nabbit!”
“I know my own park pretty well, so I thought it was going to hit the pole and not go foul,” said Hafner. “I think I got one of the few mistakes Peavy made all night.”
On to extras we went, which we all needed like a hole in the head. But with Marson yanked for Hafner, we were all lucky enough to see a moment that only Eric Wedge could love – Vinnie Rottino entered the game as the catcher! On top of that, in the 12th inning, the diehards were treated to the matchup of a lifetime – Ray Olmedo vs Chris Seddon.
I mean, September baseball is the best!
(stick with me here, I’m trying to make this interesting).
Even more fun ensued in the 12th when the Indians put two on with one out and Sandy pulled back Casey Kotchman for the one and only Matt LaPorta. We were robbed of that great experience when Alomar countered Ventura’s move of bringing in right-hander Nate Jones by calling for Jack Hannahan. Yeah expanded rosters!
Jackie K’d at a pitch in the dirt. LaPorta could have done that and I would have had more twitter fodder.
They had one last shot with two out – Jason Donald.
JD had doubled as a pinch hitter in the bottom of the ninth and stayed in as the centerfielder. This game needed to end. Nobody wanted a 13th inning. Donald obliged by lacing a single to left bringing in Lonnie Chisenhall for a Wahoo Winner. Donald was mobbed by his teammates on the field and the hundreds of fans who stuck it out went home happy.
“I’ve always been on the other side of it when you rush out to get the guy,” Donald said. “The guy always runs away from you. That makes it a little hard to get to him. I just thought I’d nip it in the bud and go right at them, take them by surprise.”
Only one game left people!
(photo via Chuck Crow/The Plain Dealer)