CLEVELAND -- Indians manager Manny Acta wants to make something clear: Cleveland is trying to pull off a trade or two to bring in reinforcements. Acta emphasized that point on Sunday, offering the slight smile of a man with a secret he wants badly to tell.
"The truth will come out," Acta said. "A lot of people will be shocked, surprised and be quiet for a long time after they find out every effort that the team put into it."
In the wake of the Indians' 4-2 to loss to the rival White Sox, the Tribe's need for outfield and offensive help was glaringly apparent once again. Poor defense and a lack of run support did a number on a strong effort from starter Justin Masterson, sinking Cleveland to a fourth straight loss.
There are still more than two months to play in the regular season, but it is beginning to feel as though the Indians are hanging by a thread in the race for the American League Central crown. Acta wants Tribe fans to trust him when he says that the Indians are searching for the right addition as the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline approaches.
Acta also reiterated that the Indians are not going to sell the farm in order to make a push for the playoffs this year, and this year alone. Cleveland's goal remains building a team that can have prolonged success. That hesitance to part with top prospects adds to the complication of pulling off a major deal.
"I'm right behind what we're doing here," Acta said. "I'm in the middle of everything. We're going to have to make the right deal. I'm not here just to try to make the playoffs this year and that's it, and then lose for the next five years.
"We're trying to build something here where we're going to get people excited -- like we have this year -- for years to come. We're trying to put a team on the field that's going to compete and win every year, not just try to see if we can make it this year.
"We're involved. All of us are involved. We're just looking for the right deal. If we are going to give away some of our best guys, we're going to have to bring somebody that is probably going to be under control, too, for us where we can keep him around.
"It's just going to have to be the right deal. They're working hard -- believe me. I have no need to be sweet-talking anything or to lie to you guys."
And the truth is that the Indians do need help.
With the loss to the White Sox -- a team that has taken six of seven games against the Tribe this season -- the Indians (51-48) slipped to only three games above .500 for the first time since April 8. Since opening the season with a 30-15 record, Cleveland has gone 21-33 to lose its grip on the division.
Thanks to injuries, the Indians are currently playing without outfielders Grady Sizemore and Shin-Soo Choo. There is a realistic chance that both could be back in late August or early September, but the Tribe might not be able to wait that long. Cleveland has been linked to the likes of B.J. Upton, Hunter Pence, Coco Crisp and Ryan Ludwick, among others, in trade rumors.
Cleveland's players know external additions could definitely help the situation.
"I like what we have," Masterson said. "If we go make a move or two and bring someone in, I'm not against it either. Not that they're going to come lead the team, but you never know, it could be that spark that continues to push us.
"You have those dog days here and there and you have to fight here to the end, because we're playing a lot of Central teams, too. If that's the case, we'll take it. If not, I like our guys, and we're going to continue to fight as hard as we can to put forth a good effort here in the last couple months."
Masterson (8-7) certainly provided a sound effort against the White Sox (49-51), limiting them to one earned run over seven innings. The right-hander has a 1.22 ERA over his past seven games, but just a 3-2 record to show for his work. The problem on Sunday was the three unearned runs Chicago also collected courtesy of a trio of errors by the Indians.
"I can't even remember anymore when he had a rough outing," Acta said. "He's been so good the whole season."
The most damaging error was a missed catch in center from rookie Ezequiel Carrera.
With two outs and runners on first and second base in the sixth inning, Masterson forced Chicago's Adam Dunn to send a deep fly ball to center. Carrera turned and sprinted back, but got tripped up as he hit the warning track. By the time the young center fielder gathered himself, the ball was tailing away and it glanced off his glove for a critical gaffe.
The White Sox scored twice on the play to grab a 3-1 lead they would not relinquish.
Carrera, who is highly regarded for his defense, had trouble recalling the last time he dropped a similar fly ball.
"That type of ball, in a big situation like that," Carrera said through an interpreter, "I can't remember the last time. It doesn't feel good."
Carrera was hardly the only culprit. Sure-handed shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera and catcher Carlos Santana each made an error in the seventh that led to another run for the White Sox. Cleveland's offense managed only two runs on five hits over six innings against Edwin Jackson (7-7) before being quieted by Chicago's bullpen.
The end result was another disappointing loss.
And a growing sense that the Indians need help from the outside.
"It hasn't been because of a lack of trying," Acta said. "We're trying very hard to get the right guy in here, or guys for that matter."