Perez closes door on bad memory
TORONTO -- Closers are trained to have a short memory. Whatever happened last night, last month or last season, turn the page and move on.
Indians closer Chris Perez made an exception on Opening Night.
Perez was summoned from the bullpen with the Tribe holding a 4-1 lead against the Blue Jays on Tuesday night. Opening Day starter Justin Masterson had given Cleveland a solid outing to help set up the save situation. On Opening Day against Toronto one year ago, Perez entered with a 4-1 lead following a gem from Masterson, blew the save and watched the Indians lose in 16 innings.
"I was definitely thinking about it," Perez said. "It was the same exact situation -- except the part of the order. It was 4-1 on Opening Day."
Perez opened the ninth inning on Tuesday by inducing back-to-back flyouts off the bats of Edwin Encarnacion and Adam Lind. After Toronto catcher J.P. Arencibia connected for a two-out double, Perez struck out Colby Rasmus to seal the win and collect the save.
In last April's Opening Day loss, Perez labored through 31 pitches. He was admittedly over-cautious after dealing with an oblique issue during Spring Training and gave up three runs on three hits with two walks in two-thirds of an inning.
What was the difference this time around?
"I just gave people my best stuff," Perez said. "I felt like last year I was a little tentative, trying to get that first strike, and they came out swinging last year. That kind of put me in a defensive mode. This year, I was able to pour in strike one and I felt good. Last year, I was a little -- not worried -- but questioning that injury.
"I didn't know if I was 100 percent game ready with adrenaline and all that stuff. This year, I knew I was ready. No worries."
Perez's drama-free ninth inning followed perfect innings from setup man Joe Smith and Vinnie Pestano in the seventh and eighth.
"That's what we do," Perez said. "That's how it lines up. Seven, eight, nine. Smitty, Vinnie and me. That's our formula going back to last year."