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Francona explains Perez's 0-pitch relief outing

MLB.com @MLBastian

OAKLAND -- When Indians manager Terry Francona reached the mound at the Coliseum in the seventh inning on Friday night, he had a quick message for lefty Oliver Perez before taking the ball from the reliever.

"I said, 'You look tired, man,'" Francona said with a laugh on Saturday morning.

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OAKLAND -- When Indians manager Terry Francona reached the mound at the Coliseum in the seventh inning on Friday night, he had a quick message for lefty Oliver Perez before taking the ball from the reliever.

"I said, 'You look tired, man,'" Francona said with a laugh on Saturday morning.

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The manager was joking around with Perez, because the left-hander threw precisely zero pitches before being removed in favor of right-hander Zach McAllister. With that pitching change, Perez made a bit of obscure baseball history. In the 3-1 loss to the A's, the veteran lefty became the first pitcher on record to make an appearance, issue a walk and not throw a single pitch.

With two outs in the seventh inning, Perez took over for starter Trevor Bauer with runners on second and third base. Francona was rolling the dice that A's manager Bob Melvin would allow the lefty-swinging Dustin Fowler to hit in order to keep his defense intact due to having a 2-0 lead. Instead, Melvin sent Mark Canha (1.031 OPS vs. lefties this season) to the plate as a pinch-hitter.

When Melvin played that card, Francona countered by having Perez load the bases with an intentional walk, which no longer requires any pitches to be thrown under the rules put in place by MLB last season. When the A's then pinch-hit with Chad Pinder, Francona made the walk to the mound and replaced Perez with McAllister, who struck out Pinder to escape the jam.

Video: CLE@OAK: McAllister K's Pinder, leaves the bases full

"I wasn't sure that they would want to sacrifice defense when they're winning," Francona explained. "But, Canha, we don't want to let Canha face a lefty. He's killing lefties. You really don't know what another [manager] is going to do, but you try to be prepared. That's why you bring him in for the first lefty, because if you bring him in for the second one, you can't do anything."

Melvin anticipated that sequence when Perez entered the game.

"I knew [Francona] was going to do that," the A's manager told reporters. "Both of us had analytic numbers on both of them. It was miniscule the whole way. But, you're trying to get your best guys out there and try to maximize matchups. You've always got to be on your toes with him."

On Saturday morning, Melvin shot Francona a friendly text to poke fun at the situation.

"Melvin texted me this morning laughing," Francona said. "He goes, 'I knew that's what you were doing. I told my bench coach that's what you were going to do and my bench coach said, 'No way.''"

Perez said he did not expect that chain of events, but the lefty enjoyed the response from his teammates when he returned to the dugout.

"It's kind of funny," Perez said. "They were saying, 'You might have the day off tomorrow,' and stuff like that. Everybody was laughing. That was kind of the fun part."

Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and Facebook.

Cleveland Indians, Oliver Perez