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Indians, Rangers survive: wild card standings stay unchanged

Sep 26, 2013, 11:58 PM EDT

Jurickson Profar AP

After the Rays made a sweep in Yankee Stadium look as easy as can be, the Indians and Rangers injected some drama into the AL wild card race before eking out one-run victories.

The Indians seemed to have things well in hand against the Twins after scoring three runs in fourth and taking a 6-1 lead into the ninth. That’s when struggling closer Chris Perez intervened. Perez, fresh off his vote of confidence from Terry Francona, gave up four runs while getting two outs in the ninth before being replaced. A Josmil Pinto two-run homer was the final blow. That brought in Joe Smith, who allowed a single and a walk before striking out Oswaldo Arcia for his third save.

Perez has now given up six runs and three homers in two appearances and 10 runs in 9 1/3 innings for the month of September. It’s hard to imagine that Francona will give him any additional save chances this weekend, which will force him to rely even more on Smith and Cody Allen.

The Rangers were never so in control as the Indians. They scored three runs in the bottom of the first against the Angels, but fell behind 4-3 in the top of the second. Matt Garza was able to rebound from there, and the game was tied 5-5 entering the bottom of the ninth, when Jurickson Profar, taking his first at-bat of the night, hit a walkoff homer off Michael Kohn.

To his credit, Ron Washington actually used Joe Nathan in a tie game in this one after keeping him in reserve in a tie game in Kansas City last weekend. Nathan got the win for his scoreless top of the ninth. Garza allowed 11 hits in all while working 5 1/3 innings, but just one of the four runs he allowed was earned. Mitch Moreland, Ian Kinsler and Adrian Beltre all committed errors in the three-run second inning.

The current wild card standings:

Rays: 90-69 (3 at Blue Jays)
Indians: 89-70 (3 at Twins)
Rangers: 88-71 (3 vs. Angels)

The Rays beat the Yankees 4-0 on Thursday and outscored the Bombers 17-3 in their three-game sweep. They’ll start Jeremy Hellickson against R.A. Dickey as they look to maintain their lead Friday. Considering that the Blue Jays had Munenori Kawasaki DHing, Ryan Langerhans playing first base and Moises Sierra batting cleanup in Thursday’s loss to the Orioles, they don’t seem poised to present that much of a challenge.

The Indians will throw Corey Kluber against Pedro Hernandez in Minnesota. Hernandez has a 6.05 ERA, and has given the Twins one quality start (against Houston) in 12 tries this year. The Rangers will pitch Alexi Ogando against 17-game winner C.J. Wilson. Working in the Rangers’ favor: Wilson is just 1-2 with a 7.92 ERA in seven starts against his old team since signing with the Angels prior to last season.

  1. jrs45 - Sep 27, 2013 at 12:06 AM

    Chris Perez Closer minus the C!!!

    • kruegere - Sep 27, 2013 at 4:35 AM

      Hris Perez Closer?

  2. burm61 - Sep 27, 2013 at 12:18 AM

    I hope Perez’s dog orders more weed soon so Chris can disappear.

  3. Senor Cardgage - Sep 27, 2013 at 12:18 AM

    To his credit, Ron Washington actually used Joe Nathan in a tie game in this one after keeping him in reserve in a tie game in Kansas City last weekend.

    Wait, isn’t that standard baseball wisdom? On the road, you hold your closer in reserve because somebody’s got to, you know, close the game if your team takes the lead. Most managers don’t bring their closers into a tie game on the road, especially not as early as the tenth.

    At home, there can be no save situation, so managers often use their closers in tie games in the ninth.

  4. beefytrout - Sep 27, 2013 at 12:21 AM

    Even if the Rangers win out, if the indians don’t lose, it’s for naught.

  5. peddealer - Sep 27, 2013 at 12:38 AM

    As a Ranger fan I don’t care if we make it because we don’t have the team to make a deep run…

    however, I am thrilled about juricksons walkoff! Way to go JP!

    • dan1111 - Sep 27, 2013 at 4:39 AM

      First, anything can happen in a few games. Just ask the 83-78 2006 Cardinals.

      Second, Texas has Yu Darvish plus a lockdown bullpen. Just that is enough to take them far, in my book.

  6. wheels579 - Sep 27, 2013 at 1:04 AM

    Evidently Ron Washington must be a fool for thinking Joakim Soria, a once-elite closer, could pitch the 10th inning of a tie game. Memo to managers everywhere: whatever you do, do not save your closer beyond the ninth inning of road games. Bloggers know best. Should you get the lead at some point in extra innings, any reliever will do just fine. Disdain for the save statistic is much more important than having your closer available to protect a lead.

    • dan1111 - Sep 27, 2013 at 4:51 AM

      This is not very complicated:

      1) Your best reliever should pitch in the most critical spot.

      2) A tie in the late innings is more critical than a close lead in the late innings.

      In the ninth inning or later of a tied road game, allowing anyone to score will end the game. That is the most important game situation that any pitcher can face. Protecting a lead, even a one-run lead, is less critical, because even if your pitcher gives up a run, you still have a chance to recover.

      Also, by saving your closer in this situation, you are saving him for a situation that might never occur. Your team could lose. Or you could score several runs, creating a nice lead that any old reliever should be able to protect.

      • dan1111 - Sep 27, 2013 at 5:32 AM

        Furthermore, it’s easy to dismiss people with these sorts of opinions as “bloggers”, but many of the key early figures in the sabermetric movement ended up being hired by major league teams, so they must have been doing something right.

  7. babybull12 - Sep 27, 2013 at 5:53 AM

    I have been saying this for years now on this site
    Keep Perez of the mound. Dude has never been good. His saves are a joke even when he some how gets one. He allows a walk and extra base hit or more every time that slob waddles out to the bump. At least he finally had enough sense to tell francona to not pitch him anymore because of his struggles but francona should have put a stop to this a while ago

  8. markofapro - Sep 27, 2013 at 6:24 AM

    Peddeaker- you jackwagon! In fact, you are NOT a Ranger fan! You’ve already dismissed their season, you putz! Go join the Cowgirl bandwagon.

    Can’t stand you fair weather morons.

  9. artisan3m - Sep 27, 2013 at 7:25 AM

    Peddealer is being pragmatic. There is no more loyal Ranger fan than yours truly but they will not go deep in the playoffs even if they win a wild card berth. When a team has a 10-1/2 game swing in one month, they are not playoff material. The Rangers did this to themselves and as such are not deserving of any sympathy. But facing obvious facts does not make one a “fair weather” fan. As for the Cowboys (2-1), they are just one point away from being undefeated. I recognize that and I’m not even a Cowboy fan.

  10. proudlycanadian - Sep 27, 2013 at 7:41 AM

    The Jays are a bit beaten up. Only 3 (Reyes, Lawrie and Arencibia) of their regular position players were well enough to play yesterday. Lind is the latest casualty with a bad back but wants to face the Rays. Rajai Davis just went on paternity leave. Still, they will still play hard against the Rays. I doubt that Hellickson will have an easy time.

  11. janessa31888 - Sep 27, 2013 at 8:24 AM

    I will never defend Chris Perez ever again. EPIC FAILURE!! He might be the most hated athlete currently playing in Cleveland right now.

  12. markofapro - Sep 27, 2013 at 12:07 PM

    Artisan- Ped said, “I don’t care if we make it..” That’s not pragmatic, that’s giving up and IT IS fair weather. …Ped is basically dating he will only be there if the Rangers win.
    If the Rangers do get in the play in to play in game, they have as good as a chance as anyone.

  13. wheels579 - Sep 27, 2013 at 12:12 PM

    The flawed logic of “Your best reliever should pitch in the most critical spot” is that you nearly always need the benefit of hindsight to determine the most critical spot. If closers pitched multiple innings per appearance as they used to, then you would probably see them used more liberally in extra-inning road games. Every game isn’t managed like an elimination game. Protecting a lead in extra innings IS mores critical because you have the lead and can end the game. Otherwise without the lead as the road team in non-elimination games you must think in terms of two innings at a time at minimum. Bloggers and sabermetricians can examine the game in hindsight and see the critical innings. Managers need to trust role players to do their jobs.

    • dan1111 - Sep 27, 2013 at 6:15 PM

      When there is a tie game and the opposing team has a walk-off situation, you KNOW that is the most critical spot in the game. Because it is the most critical spot possible. No hind-sight is needed.

      Modern closer usage is based on the idea that the final inning of the game is somehow magically far more important than any other, and that is what your comment is based on, as well, but it doesn’t make sense when you actually stop and think about it.

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