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Indians Indians Archive Game 85 Recap: This One May Hurt For A While
Written by Thomas Moore

Thomas Moore

2012 07 tribe game 85It was all going so well for the Cleveland Indians on Sunday.

Right up to the point where it all fell apart.

The Indians blew a 5-0 to fall to Tampa Bay, 7-6, as the Rays rallied for three runs in the top of the ninth off of All-Star closer Chris Perez. It was the first blown save by Perez since Opening Day, but while it was an uncharacteristically bad performance by Perez, the game was really lost on poor defensive plays by All-Star shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera and center fielder Michael Brantley.

“We can’t get on these two guys just for one game,” Indians manager Manny Acta said. “These guys (Perez and Cabrera) are responsible for where we’re at today. You can’t expect every single one of these guys to be on top of their game every single day. They have carried us for a lot of games. So when they don’t have a good one, hang with them.”

OK, we get it that no one's perfect and you win as a team and lose as a team. But those are plays that have to be made - especially Brantley's miscue. He has to have more aware of the situation than that.

Cleveland opened the scoring in the second inning when an RBI single from Casey Kotchman scored Travis Hafner. In the third, Johnny Damon tripled off the wall in right center and came home on an errant pickoff throw from Tampa starter James Shields. In the same inning, Jason Kipnis hit a double and scored on an error by third baseman Jeff Keppinger, who couldn’t handle a ground ball off the bat of Hafner.

Kotchman added a solo home run in the fourth (his eighth on the year) and then singled home Kipnis in the fifth to give the Tribe a 5-0 lead.

It looked like the Indians were going to head to the All-Star break on a high note, especially with starter Zach McCallister taking a no-hitter into the fifth inning. Will Rhymes, Tampa’s No. 9 hitter, broke up the no-hitter with a one-out single in the inning (remember that name).

Things took a turn for the worse in the top of the sixth inning when the Rays scored four unearned runs.

With one out in the inning and Carlos Pena on first with an infield hit, Ben Zobrist sent a double play grounder to Kipnis, but his throw to second was dropped by Cabrera for an error. After getting B.J. Upton to fly out for the second out of the inning, McCallister gave up a two-run double to Luke Scott. Keppinger then walked to put two on and Desmond Jennings drove them both home with a double.

Suddenly, it was a new ballgame.

It stayed 5-4 until Shin-Soo Choo homered in the eighth (his 10th of the year) to give the Tribe what looked to be a two-run cushion.

Perez came on in the ninth to try and earn his 25th consecutive save. After getting Jose Lobaton on a called third strike, Perez gave up a home run to right off the bat of Rhymes, his second career home run and first since 2010. Johnson then singled to center to bring Pena up to the plate.

Pena lifted a soft fly to center that, for some reason, Brantley decided to dive for rather than letting the ball drop for a single that still would have left the Indians in the lead. Need we say that Brantley badly missed on his dive? The ball got past him, allowing Johnson to score and leaving Pena on third with a triple.

Tie ball game.

Ben Zobrist followed with a single to right to score Pena and give the Rays their first lead of the day. Perez closed out the inning by striking out Upton and Scott, but the damage was done.

“It’s been good so far but obviously, the first day and the last day of the first half stunk,” Perez said. “I made some bad pitches and they hit them.”

“(Perez) put together a great run,” said fellow reliever Vinnie Pestano, who pitched a scoreless eighth. “Closers can’t be perfect every time. Going 24-for-26, you’ll take that every first half. He does a tremendous job, and sometimes things just don’t go your way. Sometimes you’re gonna have those games.”

The Tribe tried to rally in the bottom of the ninth against Fernando Rodney and his off-center cap. With two outs, Brantley singled and Carlos Santana followed with a single to advance Brantley to third. But Kotchman ended the game with a ground out to second.

So what were the good parts? Kotchman and Damon combined to go 5-for-8 with three RBI (all by Kotchman) and two extra base hits. Choo had two more hits and is now batting .328 with eight home runs and 21 RBI in the leadoff spot. Brantley added three hits.

But other than that ...

This one may hurt for a while. The Tribe lost a chance to pick up a game on the first-place Chicago White Sox, 11-9 losers to Toronto, and head into the All-Star break having lost two of their last three. The Indians (44-41) are three games behind the White Sox but only a half-game ahead of third-place Detroit, which beat Kansas City on Sunday, 7-1.

It would be nice if the Indians could get right back at it, but they are now off until Friday because of the All-Star break. Hopefull the team can use the break to shake this one off because it's shaping up to be one heck of a second-half of the season.

(Photo by The Associated Press)

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