With their chance to wrap up a series victory just two outs away, the Cleveland Indians couldn't hold on against the Rays on Sunday in an extremely disheartening 7-6 loss at Progressive Field.
The Indians were bestowed with a nice gift of five consecutive scoreless innings from starter Zach McAllister to open the day, but after surrendering a pair of two-run doubles to Luke Scott and Desmond Jennings in the sixth the 24-year-old hurler was quickly pulled from the game. Even though he was roughed up a bit before exiting, McAllister showed plenty of promise with a career-high eight strikeouts despite throwing just 89 pitches.
Try to protect a two-run lead and lock down his 25th save of the year, Cleveland closer Chris Perez did not look like his usual All-Star self, and quickly served up a solo home run to Tampa's Will Rhymes in the ninth inning that cut the deficit in half. Still needing only a double play to end the game and send his team to the All-Star break on a high note, Perez instead was beaten on an RBI triple from Carlos Pena that tied the game. Unable to stop the bleeding further, a Ben Zobrist single plated Pena immediately after to put the Rays ahead on the scoreboard and eventually saddled Perez with the loss.
Aside from this being his first blown save since Opening Day against Toronto, the 27-year-old Perez has been absolutely dominant this season at the back end of the Cleveland bullpen. Only Baltimore's Jim Johnson has recorded more saves (26), and there's no question that Perez's body of work is more than deserving of belonging in Kansas City at this year's midseason event.
Now 44-41 on the year and in a complete dogfight in the AL Central, the Indians will open a three-game set with the Toronto Blue Jays at the Rogers Center on July 13 to kick off the second half of the season.
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