The top of the ninth of the Texas Rangers' 10-0 win over the Indians Wednesday was almost comically bizarre. More to the point, it was a microcosm of Rafael Perez's troubled season.
It started with Esteban German's ground ball that hit the back of the third base bag and bounced crazily away for a double. Julio Borbon slapped an easy bouncer to the right of the mound that eluded Perez's glove for an error.
Then came three consecutive singles, the last of which Marlon Byrd blooped just over the outstretched glove of second baseman Jamey Carroll. Perez induced Nelson Cruz to pop up, but the next three batters singled.
Indians manager Eric Wedge had seen enough by that point and led Perez away. Perez faced eight batters, seven of whom reached base. The error made two of the five runs unearned, but that hardly took Perez off the hook.
The error occurred on the second batter of the inning. Five of the next six hit safely, so Perez had ample opportunity to limit the damage.
‘‘Regardless of whether it's your fault or someone else's, you have to find a way to get through the inning,’’ Wedge said.
Perez's ERA, nothing to brag about before Wednesday, ballooned to 7.94. It would be difficult to argue that Perez's inflated ERA is not an accurate reflection of how he has pitched.
In 46 appearances, he has given up 58 hits and 23 walks in 39j innings, by far the worst numbers in his three full seasons in the big leagues.
The past two years were Perez triumphs. In 2007, he compiled a 1.78 ERA; last year it was 3.54. Is this the same pitcher, and is there any way this will not be judged as a wasted season?
‘‘You can't look at it that way,’’ said Wedge, who believes even a bad year can have positive effects as a learning experience.
In every way this season has been a bummer for Perez. His batting average against has gone from .187 in 2007 to .234 in '08 to .329 this year. His strikeouts per nine innings have gone from 9.2 in '07 to 10.1 in '08 to 6.18 this season.
Moreover, as a left-hander, Perez is expected to dominate left-handed batters. Instead, lefties are batting .403 against him this year; righties only .267.
It has been suggested that young relievers need time to mature, and Perez, 27, has made only 181 career appearances.
‘‘He was very good for us the past two years,’’ Wedge said.
Yes, but they were his first two (full) seasons.
Perez can't do much to salvage this season, but there's always next year. Undoubtedly, he will get another chance.
In ticking off the different ways the Rangers demonstrated their superiority over the Indians, Wedge added, ‘‘They did a good job defensively; we did not. That kid at shortstop was all over the place.’’
‘‘That kid’’ is Elvis Andrus, the rookie Rangers officials hoped would assert himself as the regular as far back as spring training. Andrus is the reason the Rangers signed Omar Vizquel, who was an insurance policy against the rookie's possible failure and a mentor to him.
Andrus is batting .277 with six home runs, 32 RBI and 26 steals in 30 attempts. He has 19 errors, but rookie shortstops often pile up the errors.
In taking eight of nine for the season against the Tribe, the Rangers outscored the Indians 69-34 and for the first time since May 1992, swept a three-game series in Cleveland (Tuesday and Wednesday).
Texas had not beaten the Tribe eight times since 2004. Despite their domination over the Indians, the Rangers are only 21-19 against Central Division teams.
In lasting only two-thirds of an inning Wednesday, Fausto Carmona suffered through the shortest start of his career, The last time a Tribe starter went only two-thirds of an inning was Paul Byrd in a game against the Royals on Aug. 23, 2006. . . . Of Luis Valbuena’s 74 hits, 32 have gone for extra bases, including 22 doubles.