Perez just misses cutting down Kluber's lone run

Eaton knocks ball out of catcher's glove on daring dash home

Perez just misses cutting down Kluber's lone run

CHICAGO -- With a runner on third base and a breaking ball headed for the dirt, the only thing going through a catcher's mind is to become a hockey goalie and stop the ball from getting past you.

In the sixth inning Monday night, with the potential game-tying run 90 feet away, that's all Indians catcher Roberto Perez was thinking as Corey Kluber's curveball dived downward.

Perez used his body to stop the ball and prevented it from going to the backstop. He thought he was, so to speak, home free when the ball bounced only a few feet to his right.

But the runner on third, White Sox speedster Adam Eaton, broke for the plate and scored the tying run after knocking the ball out of Perez's glove as he tried to make the tag.

That was the only run Kluber allowed in nine masterful innings, but that was enough to keep Chicago in the game until the White Sox pushed across the winning run in the 10th inning to hand the Indians a heart-breaking 2-1 defeat.

Kluber's nine dominant innings

After the game, Perez still was a little stunned about what happened in the sixth.

"I blocked the ball," he said. "It was really close to the plate. He's a very aggressive runner and it surprised me that he came home with [Jose] Abreu hitting.

"But he took that chance and he knocked the ball out of my glove."

Perhaps the fact that Eaton was willing to take that chance with Abreu, the team's best hitter at the plate, shows you how good Kluber was. The right-hander struck out 12 to run his total to 30 over the last two starts.

"I told [third-base coach] Joe [McEwing], I said, 'If it touches the grass or it's close, I'm going," Eaton said. "You gotta put pressure on. Joe, the pitch before, said, 'He's gonna get nasty on this one, you know, be ready to go.'

"As soon as I saw the ball kind of going over, I took a little slide step and then broke for home. Sometimes you gotta be risky, especially when there's a guy on the mound that's throwing the ball real well and it paid off."

The flip side of the play is Eaton would have been out if Perez held onto the ball. Then the decision to come home would have looked a bit foolish.

"I got the ball in my hand and inside my glove," Perez said. "As he was sliding he just took it away from me."

Perhaps the most frustrating part of the play for the Indians is Perez did everything correct. He blocked the ball, he scrambled after it, he picked it up, put the ball and his bare hand in the glove, and made a nice diving tag attempt.

"He did everything in his power," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "Believe me, he didn't want to lose that ball. He threw his body across there as best he could.

"If he holds it, it stays in his glove, he's out and we're talking about Kluber having a complete game masterpiece."

John Jackson is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.