It was a great night to be Chris Perez and other quick thoughts on a wild night in baseball
Chris Perez shouldn’t have ripped the fans. First, there’s that. He just shouldn’t have done it. Regardless of whether he was right or wrong, there’s nothing to be gained by getting into it with the paying customers. I’m sure Chris knows that. I’m absolutely sure Mark Shapiro would rather Chris have chosen his words carefully. That said, if you’re a fan of the Indians, Chris Perez is one of your favorites. That’s because he cares so much, because there’s not a phony bone in his body, because what you see is what you get.
The Cardinals wondered if Chris would ever get his emotions under control, at least enough to be a closer. To close games in the Major League is to learn to deal with defeat. When Brad Lidge allowed that monstrous home run to Albert Pujols in the 2005 NLCS, one of the most important telephone calls he got was from Billy Wagner, a friend and mentor.
“It’s what you do from here that matters,” Wagner told Lidge. “You can’t let Pujols beat you two or three times, or even ruin your career.”
Wagner gave up a game-winning home run early in his stay with the Phillies, and beat writers were surprised to find him waiting in front of his locker for the media.
“And if I give up another one tomorrow night, I’ll be right here waiting for you guys,” Wagner said.
Wagner wasn’t afraid. Neither is Chris Perez. Indians fans love him because he cares so much, because his fire is right out there for the whole world to see. Still, when he criticized the fans, he wondered what the reception would be the next time he walked in from the bullpen at Progressive Field. He found out Tuesday night with a long, loud standing ovation. He seemed almost overwhelmed, moreso than relieved.
The Indians have something going for a second straight year. Shaprio and Chris Antonetti have done a fantastic job, and Manny Acta is one of the best in the game. If you look at the Indians statistically, you won’t be blown away, but their confidence is growing day-by-day. It’s time to take a second look at the AL Central. It may not play out the way we thought.
How about the Dodgers? Do you believe yet? To rally from a five-run deficit early and then to rally again from a one-run deficit late, to win again, may be all you need to know about this club. Even without Matt Kemp, they keep winning. Bobby Abreu has been a great addition, and that rotation a lot of us doubted keeps throwing up quality starts.
It was also a huge, huge night for the Cardinals. They’re going nowhere without Adam Wainwright being really good, and against the Padres, he was as good as he has ever been. There are so many moving parts around the Cardinals, with older guys aching and younger guys moving in, but everything they hope to accomplish begins with that rotation.
Buck Showalter’s bullpen has been phenomenal, running up a 2.29 ERA and making good on 80 percent of its save chances. But it has thrown the second-most innings in the American League. If there’s a lingering concern about the Orioles, it’s the same one that has been hanging around all the time. It’s the depth of the rotation. The Orioles are 10th in quality starts and seventh in innings. They’re a good team, a real good team, but that bullpen workload bears watching. How’s that for finding a dark cloud in a silver lining? Or however that expression goes.