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Perez establishes himself with Tribe

Perez establishes himself with Tribe

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KANSAS CITY -- The last time he was at Kauffman Stadium, Chris Perez was still a member of the Cardinals. And one thing he remembers from that weekend in June was watching on TV as the Indians' bullpen endured arguably its lowest of many low points.

Kerry Wood blew consecutive save opportunities, and an Indians team that had taken two of three from the Cards a week earlier suffered consecutive extra-innings losses against the Cubs.

"I said to one of my teammates, 'Why didn't they do that against us?'" Perez recalled with a laugh.

After watching those two games, Perez had an idea of how the '09 season was going for the Tribe bullpen. And when he became a member of that bullpen just days later in the Mark DeRosa trade, he viewed the move as an opportunity to establish himself in the big leagues.

Two months later, Perez appears to have done just that. In recent weeks, he has established himself as a force to be reckoned with in an improved Tribe 'pen.

Perez took a 15 1/3 scoreless-innings streak into the three-game series with the Royals that continues Tuesday night. It was the longest such streak by a Tribe reliever since Rafael Betancourt tossed 19 scoreless in the midst of his dominant 2007 season.

"[The streak] has definitely helped a lot," said Perez, who had given up five hits and four walks with 19 strikeouts during the stretch.

It's helped because, in Perez's words, he was "one foot out the door" after two disastrous outings against the White Sox shortly after joining his new club. His Tribe debut on June 29 saw him hit two batters, walk another and forget to cover first base en route to giving up four runs in just two-thirds of an inning of work. Eight days later, Perez blew a save opportunity against the Sox in Chicago when he served up a grand slam to Paul Konerko.

Looking back on those outings, Perez said he was overthrowing in an effort to make a good first impression on his new organization.

"At the time, you think you're doing everything right," he said. "Then you look at the video and see your elbow was dropping. I was trying to throw the ball 100 mph, and that's not me. I was trying to be something I wasn't."

Perez said his recent success is a product of getting his mechanics in line, getting first-pitch strikes with his fastball and slider, and, perhaps above all else, getting regular work -- something he didn't have in St. Louis.

"[Eric] Wedge is using me every three days, which is nice," Perez said. "In St. Louis, it was tough to keep a rhythm. Mechanically, everything gets out of whack when I don't throw regularly."

Perez had a chance to compete for the Cardinals' closing job during Spring Training, but he suffered shoulder tendinitis right in the thick of the battle and bowed out. During the season, he was used primarily in matchup situations.

"I just don't feel like [the Cardinals] felt I could do the job," Perez said. "In their defense, I wasn't pitching like this."

Pitching matchup
CLE: RHP Justin Masterson (4-4, 4.36 ERA)
Masterson had a terrific bounceback start against the Angels on Thursday. Coming off a rough outing at Minnesota in which he gave up seven runs in 3 1/3 innings, the righty held the potent Angels lineup to just one unearned run on three hits over 6 1/3 innings. In the process, he earned his first win since joining the Indians in the July 31 Victor Martinez trade. Masterson also saw his pitch count bumped up to 110 in just his third start since his early August conversion from relief work. Clearly, the kid gloves are off.

KC: RHP Zack Greinke (11-8, 2.44 ERA)
Greinke wasn't at his best but he still pitched well enough to win on Wednesday against the White Sox. However, his offense was unable to back his efforts in a 4-2 loss, as has been the case for much of the season. Despite possessing the lowest ERA in the American League, Greinke also is receiving the league' worst run support. He had allowed seven home runs all season but surrendered a season-high three solo shots against the White Sox. He lasted seven innings, allowing four runs on six hits -- all for extra bases -- with eight strikeouts and one walk. Lifetime against the Indians, Greinke is 5-8 with a 3.73 ERA in 21 games (16 starts).

Tidbits
Scott Lewis has landed on the disabled list. Only this time, he's on the Triple-A Columbus DL, rather than the Major League DL. According to head athletic trainer Lonnie Soloff, Lewis is dealing with an injury to his lateral arm, above the left elbow. Soloff does not believe this injury is related to the injury Lewis suffered to his forearm, near the elbow, earlier this season. Lewis, activated off the DL and optioned to Columbus last week, made just one start for the Clippers. ... Infielder Jason Donald is also on the Columbus DL. He has a strained lower back. Donald had surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his knee earlier this year, before he was acquired in the Cliff Lee trade. ... Matt LaPorta remains entrenched in left field, but he's still getting regular work at first during pregame. "We want to get him some more work over there," Wedge said. "We'll give him some more reps before we throw him out there." ... Left-hander Nick Hagadone, one of the acquisitions in the Victor Martinez trade, was named the South Atlantic League Pitcher of the week after tossing six scoreless innings over two starts in which he allowed just a hit and a walk with 10 strikeouts. Hagadone has a 2.31 ERA in four starts for the Captains. ... For more info and analysis on the Tribe, visit the CastroTurf blog at http://castrovince.mlblogs.com.

Tickets
 Buy tickets now to catch the game in person.

On the Internet
 MLB.TV
 Gameday Audio
•  Gameday
•  Official game notes

On television
• STO-HD

On radio
• WTAM 1100

Up next
• Wednesday: Indians (David Huff, 7-7, 6.80) at Royals (Luke Hochevar, 6-6, 5.60), 2:10 p.m. ET
• Thursday: Indians (Aaron Laffey, 7-3, 3.42) at Orioles (David Hernandez, 4-6, 4.35), 7:05 p.m. ET
• Friday: Indians (Fausto Carmona, 3-8, 5.92) at Orioles (Jason Berken, 3-11, 6.49), 7:05 p.m. ET

Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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