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Bullpen blows it again


Bullpen blows it again
Detroit - It could have been worse. Anyone who has seen the Indians' bullpen knows that's true.

If the Indians had tied the score in the ninth inning Saturday afternoon, and they had a good chance to do it, manager Eric Wedge was going to send Rafael Perez out for the bottom of the ninth to face a slew of Tiger right-handers. After Perez, it was going to be Jensen Lewis.

Yeah, that Perez and that Lewis.

So maybe it's better that the Indians lost to the Tigers, 9-7, the way they did. Why prolong a distasteful act?

This was a game the Indians should have won. If they had, it could have been a turnaround game, a momentum builder. It's something this 9-15 team badly needs.

They overcame deficits of 1-0, 5-0 and 6-5 to take a 7-6 lead in the seventh. Then it was gone and the bullpen's DNA was all over the crime scene.

Rafael Betancourt, who protected the 7-6 lead by getting the last two outs of the seventh, lost it in the eighth. He gave up a leadoff single to Josh Anderson. Curtis Granderson followed with a first-pitch homer.

Carlos Guillen would eventually follow with a sacrifice fly for a 9-7 lead.

The bullpen is 3-6 and has blown an AL-high five saves in 10 opportunities. Teams that even dream about being a contender do not dream for long when they convert 50 percent of their saves.

The late-inning homer is a reliever's worst nightmare. The Tribe's bullpen is tied for second in the AL with 14 homers allowed.

They all seem to carry the impact of Granderson's drive against Betancourt (0-1).

Friday night, Miguel Cabrera hit a three-run homer off Lewis in the eighth to almost ruin a 6-5 victory.

On Wednesday night, Lewis gave up a 10th-inning homer to Boston's Jonathan Van Every to beat the Tribe, 6-5.

Lewis already has allowed six homers in 12 2/3 innings. Wedge is trying to stay away from him so he can regroup, but Lewis was next in line after Perez if the Indians had scored twice in the ninth.

Wedge had no one else to go to. Joe Smith is on the disabled list. Masa Kobayashi apparently is unusable in tight games. Vinnie Chulk and Tony Sipp already had pitched after starter Aaron Laffey gave up five runs in the fourth, four of them on Adam Everett's second career grand slam.

"We've got to keep working to find people to step up in the seventh and eighth innings," said Wedge.

"I know the eighth inning has really been our Achilles heel, but to me it's the seventh and eighth inning. That's where you have to bridge the gap to get to Kerry [Wood]."

The Indians have been outscored, 35-12, in the eighth this year.

Laffey, who escaped the loss because of the Tribe's offense, allowed five runs on six hits in 3 1/3 innings. He walked five to give him 15 walks in 22 innings.

Chulk relieved Laffey in the fifth and allowed two hits in 2 2/3 innings.

"I'm just trying to get outs," said Chulk. "Every out we get, we're closer to winning the game."

Sipp started the seventh with a 7-6 lead. He retired Carlos Guillen but walked Gerald Laird as Betancourt relieved to face Brandon Inge.

"I've got to go with Betancourt there," said Wedge. "Betancourt has some numbers against Inge. Brandon has hit some homers this year."

The Indians took the 7-6 lead in the seventh as Grady Sizemore doubled and scored on Victor Martinez's broken-bat bloop double behind first base off Bobby Seay. Martinez went to third on a wild pitch and scored on Mark DeRosa's sacrifice fly for the lead.

After the Tigers scored five in the fourth, the Indians answered with five in the fifth off Zach Miner. The big hit was Asdrubal Cabrera's three-run double to left that Ryan Raburn almost caught after slipping to one knee when the ball left the bat. Shin-Soo Choo's two-run triple to right made it 5-5.

Cabrera and Choo singled in the ninth to put runners on first and third with one out, but Fernando Rodney struck out DeRosa and Jhonny Peralta for his fifth save.

"The bullpen is going to get better," said Martinez. "They've been good before, and they'll be good again."

To reach this Plain Dealer reporter: phoynes@plaind.com, 216-999-5158

BOX:

Today

What: Indians at Detroit.

When: 1:05 p.m.

Where: Comerica Park.

TV/radio: WKYC Ch. 3, SportsTime Ohio; WTAM AM/1100.

Pitchers: Cliff Lee (1-3, 3.94 ERA) vs. Justin Verlander (1-2, 6.75).

cleveland. com/tribe

Get in-game updates from Detroit as the Indians take on the Tigers this afternoon.


Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: May 5, 2009

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