CLEVELAND – (Wire Service Report – Special to Digital Sports Desk) – Roberto Perez wasn’t part of the Cleveland Indians’ blueprint for success at the beginning of the season. He also wasn’t part of the plan leading up to the Aug. 1 trading deadline. But on Tuesday night there he was — the defense-first, last-option catcher — hitting a pair of home runs and driving in four as the Indians downed the Chicago Cubs 6-0 in Game 1 of the World Series at Progressive Field.
This is part of what makes Major League Baseball’s postseason so entertaining. It isn’t just must-see because of the high-quality games. It also inevitably gives a chance for some unsung player to shine. There may be more in this World Series, but for at least a day Perez’s story captivates us.
This game was as close to a must-win for the Tribe as they come. Ace Corey Kluber was starting — he is truly the only starting pitcher the Indians can bank on after September injuries took Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar out of their equation. He is so important that manager Terry Francona laid out a plot to use him in Games 1, 4 and 7.
Kluber delivered with six shutout innings before Andrew Miller and Cody Allen got the last nine outs. It’s a recipe — at least six innings from Kluber and then a handoff to Cleveland’s spectacular bullpen — that has been working all through the playoffs.
But the one ingredient that makes that magic is a lead. Cleveland grabbed it with a two-run first inning that included an RBI hit-by-pitch on Brandon Guyer. Perez took the heat off with a solo homer off Chicago ace Jon Lester in the fourth inning and three-run dagger in the eighth off Hector Rondon.
Perez joins Yogi Berra, Johnny Bench, Gary Carter and Gene Tenace as the only catchers with multi-homer games in the World Series.