What’s more fitting? For Chris Perez to blow up the Indians’ playoff chances by blowing a save, or for and exhausted Addison Reed to lose it for the White Sox with a walk-off shot from Jason Giambi, enabaled by a botched grounder? Both are pretty perfect, and they came as close as possible to happening at the same time.
Right after the White Sox ripped off a pair of solo shots off noted mail enthusiast and pet owner Chris Perez to go ahead 4-3 in the ninth, an exhausted Addison Reed came out for the second-straight night, sitting at 90-91 mph and looking to guile his way through the den of despair that is Progressive Field for the White Sox.
For a minute, it looked like Reed would do the unthinkable. Showing some magnificent location on his slop, he struck out Yan Gomes and Mike Aviles, and was only a Michael Brantley grounder that bounced bad off the lip of the infield away from a clean inning. But after getting one swing-and-miss on a slider to Jason Giambi, his second bender didn’t get far enough in, and the forty-two year-old walked it off with a bomb on the White Sox for the second time this season, giving the Indians a much-needed 5-4 win.
The jokes were flowing like the Nile at Chris Perez for a solid 10 minutes before Reed took the rubber. Handed a 3-2 lead with the assignment to hold onto it for an inning and maintain Cleveland’s grip on the second wild card slot, Perez saw his 95 mph high fastball on the outer-half swatted by Dayan Viciedo to the right field seats to tie things up. Perez has had his troubles, but suffice it to say that if Viciedo regularly top-handed that kind of velocity from right-handers, life would be different for everyone. That was damaging enough, and had a nervy pack of Indians fans on Perez’s case already, but after two strikeouts, he was almost free of total infamy before Alejandro De Aza crushed a first-pitch fastball out to the front row of the right-center seats.
A more mundane one-run loss to the Indians seemed nearly ready to engrave in stone before the eighth. An attempt to squeeze seven innings out of Hector Santiago after he had improbably delivered a quality start, allowing only one run with only one strikeout, were immediately dashed when Brantley tied the game at 2 by obliterating his first pitch of the inning to right field. Santiago was left in to put the go-ahead run on first, and made to watch as Nate Jones, basically the fifth-most heavily used short reliever in the sport, allowed a two-out RBI single to Jason Kipnis to put the Indians up 3-2.
Before that, both starting pitchers did their part to prove that they are, in fact, alive. Ubaldo Jimenez has quietly made a strong bid to be considered the best AL starter of the second half. While the control problems that sidetracked his career were active (three walks, including a leadoff pass to Conor Gillaspie to set up the Sox first run of the game in the fourth, and a 3-2 walk to Josh Phegley of all people that ended his night in the seventh), he flashed a tight splitter and located his fastball well enough to hide the four miles of heat its lost since his highest heights. Alejandro De Aza singling home Gordon Beckham after Cody Allen inherited him in the seventh briefly put Jimenez in line for a 2-1 loss, but that was obviously short-lived.
Making his first start since Sept. 14, Hector Santiago overcame some early control problems and high changeup issues to sneak his way to the seventh with only a bloop RBI single from Brantley in the second counting against. His stuff wasn’t sharp, his fastball flashed little of the mid-90′s heat he snuck up on the league with in the first half, but his control held long enough to steal a quality start (6.1 IP, 3 ER) in what will be his last appearance of a season that has done a hell of a lot for his career and future earning potential.
This headline is mocking of Reed, but could his fatigue be anymore blatantly transparent? Can throwing him into situations to fail be much more pointless? He worked his ass off to get the save despite having limited tools at his disposal and got hammered trying to overuse his slider to hide a dead fastball. It’s not fun to watch him right now, and only part of that is due to the results.
Team Record: 62-95