CLEVELAND -- Indians closer Chris Perez has publicly criticized team management for failing to sign Josh Willingham last offseason, and Willingham continues to rub salt in the wound. He went 4-for-5 with his 35th home run and four RBI in Wednesday's 6-4 victory, which gave him 110 RBI for the season, including 19 against Cleveland.
How close did Willingham come to signing with Cleveland before inking his three-year, $21 million deal with the Twins?
“Basically, to make a long story short, I was looking for three years, and I had two teams that offered me three years,” Willingham said. “Cleveland wasn’t one of them.”
BATTING RACE UPDATE
Joe Mauer went 1-for-4 with a walk, lowering his batting average at .324. Miguel Cabrera stayed at .333 after going 1-for-3 with his 41st home run.
In the eighth inning, Mauer lined a ball to left field, and third base umpire Mike Muchlinski originally ruled the ball landed for a hit, even though Vinny Rottino appeared to make the catch. Indians manager Manny Acta came out to argue. The umpires conferred and overturned the call, and replays showed that Joe West’s crew got it right.
The bullpen pitched seven innings in Tuesday’s 6-5, 12-inning victory, so Manager Ron Gardenhire leaned on righthander Alex Burnett and lefthander Tyler Robertson for the setup work Wednesday.
Burnett pitched a 1-2-3 seventh inning but ran into trouble in the eighth. Robertson entered and gave up a two-out, RBI to Michael Brantley that trimmed the lead to 6-4. That was the first hit for a lefthanded batter off Robertson since Josh Hamilton got one on Aug. 23.
Robertson rebounded by striking out Travis Hafner to end the eighth, and Glen Perkins pitched the ninth for his second save in two nights.