Indians' turn to fall in battle of bullpens
Padres get to Mujica in 10th inning to even up series
CLEVELAND -- Manager Eric Wedge had to be counting on more from his offense Saturday night after the Tribe had scored three runs in the first inning off Padres right-hander Cha Seung Baek.
But those three runs would be all the Indians would score off Baek.
"He shut us down," Wedge said.
That might be one way to put it. Another way would be to say Baek dominated the Indians and kept their 3-0 lead from ballooning to much more. They didn't do anything against Baek after the first and didn't do much against two Padres relievers as the Indians lost in Interleague Play to San Diego, 8-3, in 10 innings.
On "Turn Back the Clock Night," the Indians wore uniforms from the 1978 season, but their performance in this loss resembled one of a more recent vintage -- circa 2008, more specifically.
For this loss was oh so like too many of the other 37 losses this season: solid work from a starting pitcher, little to no offense and even less production for the bullpen.
If that's not a critique of the '08 season, nothing is, which was the frustrating part of it for the 37,484 fans that showed up at Progressive Field.
Like Wedge, they were excited at the early offense, which staked Cliff Lee to a 3-0 lead. Lee, though workmanlike, was hardly at his sharpest.
"I got behind in the count a few times," he said. "I wasn't working ahead quite as effectively as in the past. It was just one of those games where I felt like I had to battle, but I felt like I gave the team a chance to win."
No dispute about that, for Lee went 6 1/3 innings before handing a 3-2 lead over to the Indians bullpen.
The bullpen couldn't hold it.
Specifically, Rafael Perez couldn't hold the lead. He'd come on in the top of the eighth to replace Rafael Betancourt. Perez gave up a game-tying homer to Jody Gerut before getting out of the inning.
"He hung and left it right up there for him," Wedge said of Perez.
At that point, the Indians didn't appear as if they'd score again. Baek never allowed another hit in his seven innings, and the Padres bullpen allowed just two hits; none led to runs.
That ineffective offense put pressure on the Indians' bullpen.
Could it hold off the Padres?
In the 10th, right-hander Edward Mujica came on to replace closer Joe Borowski, who'd replaced Perez and pitched a scoreless ninth.
Mujica, however, wouldn't have the good fortune of working a scoreless frame. A single, a double and an intentional walk to Adrian Gonzalez put Mujica face to face with Tony Clark, who fell behind in the count, 0-2. Mujica tried to get Clark to bite at fastballs down in the strike zone.
Clark never did. He coaxed an RBI walk from Mujica, who made a couple of pitches that bordered on too close for Clark to take or too close for an umpire to call a ball.
"I don't know what the umpires want," Mujica said.
The game might just as well have ended there, because Wedge didn't seem to have a spark in his offense this night. Even if one had been there, the spark would have needed to have been an explosion after Mujica's handiwork.
For after the walk to Clark, Mujica gave up a grand slam to former Indians third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff. It came on a high fastball.
"You can't survive up here like that," Wedge said on Mujica. "He's shown signs where he can throw the fastball downhill, work to the bottom of the [strike] zone, be aggressive and throw the ball where he wants to.
"But he has to pitch, and have a purpose with each pitch."
Justice B. Hill is a senior writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.