CLEVELAND -- Opening Day was not kind to closers. Indians stopper Chris Perez was one of three All-Star closers to suffer a blown save in their team's first game of the season, joining Detroit's Jose Valverde and New York's Mariano Rivera.
"They're human. It's going to happen," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "It could've been in July, but it happened on Opening Day. He's going to have a few of those. Every one of them has them."
In the ninth inning of Thursday's 7-4, 16-inning Opening Day loss to the Blue Jays -- the longest season opener in baseball history -- Perez blew a save by allowing three runs on three hits with a pair of walks. That effectively erased a three-run lead for the Tribe and sent the contest into extra innings.
During his appearance, Perez also averaged 90 mph on his fastball and topped out at only 92 mph. Last season, when he saved 36 games in 40 chances and made the All-Star team for the Indians, Perez averaged 93.4 mph with his heater. Acta said the diminished velocity had more to do with the weather conditions than anything else.
"I don't think people are doing the right research when they're talking about that," Acta said of Perez's pitch speed. "Everybody wasn't throwing hard that day. It was too cold. Chris, actually, was the second-hardest thrower on our staff behind [Justin] Masterson that night.
"Vinnie Pestano averaged 89 mph that day, but he got people out, so no one says anything. It was too cold. ... It's expected in those type of conditions on the first day of the season. In Spring Training, [Perez] was hitting 95, so he's OK.
"Sometimes I guess it'd be a nice test to get somebody out of their coat and put them on the middle of the field in the 40-degree weather to try to throw 95 mph so they can see."