CLEVELAND -- The sun wasn't at its brightest, but the hazy skies forced most eyes to squint on Sunday afternoon. Ezequiel Carrera's shades, however, remained atop the bill of his hat.
In the sixth inning, with two outs and two on, Chicago's Adam Dunn lofted a fly ball toward the warning track in straightaway center field. Carrera ran a long way and turned his body in time for the ball to graze off the heel of his glove and drop to the ground. A pair of runs scored, and the White Sox took a two-run lead en route to a 4-2 win.
The center-field wall wasn't in play, but Carrera had to transition from the outfield grass to the solid rubber of the warning track to flag down the fly ball. But after the long run, he appeared to lose his balance.
No matter the reason for that costly gaffe, manager Manny Acta stood by his rookie on Monday, pronouncing Carrera "the best defensive center fielder" in the Indians organization.
Carrera repaid his manager's trust, making a diving catch in the top of the first to rob the Angels' Torii Hunter of a hit.
Carrera said that the sun didn't factor in to his miscue on Sunday, only that he misjudged the position of the ball as he rotated to make the catch.
Acta said that Carrera's faulty footwork did him in.
"He was kind of stumbling," Acta said. "The sun was to the side, and his sunglasses were on top of his hat, so the sun wasn't a factor. He just started stumbling back there and dropped it."
Nevertheless, Acta had no qualms about putting Carrera in center on Monday.
"He's just human and dropped a fly ball, simple as that," Acta said. "We trust that guy to play center field any day, and he'll continue to play center field as long as he's here."
Carrera couldn't recall another time in his career when he dropped a fly ball at a critical moment.
Neither could his manager.
"I can't pinpoint any occasion where he has mishandled a ball or anything," Acta said. "He just dropped that ball yesterday. He's been really good."
White getting closer to return
CLEVELAND -- Alex White moved one step closer to returning after throwing a simulated game on Monday. When the right-hander does return, he'll do so out of the bullpen rather than rejoin the club's rotation.
"Down the stretch, he could be a guy that really gives us a lift in the 'pen," manager Manny Acta said.
The Indians will wait to see how White, out with a sprained right middle finger, feels on Tuesday before determining whether he will pitch another simulated game or begin a Minor League rehab assignment. Acta said that White threw hard, though he lacked optimal control.
"He threw the ball well, good velocity," Acta said. "He didn't have the command you want to see, but that would be too much to ask for his first time out there, for him to be painting the blacks."
Without extensive time to rebuild White's stamina and pitch count, the Indians will use him to bolster a bullpen that could grow fatigued down the stretch. The "Bullpen Mafia" entered Monday's action fifth in the American League with a 3.37 ERA.
Setup man Vinnie Pestano, in his first full season in the Major Leagues, is on pace to set a personal high in appearances since the beginning of his professional career in 2007. The Indians have monitored his workload throughout his climb to the big leagues. Pestano underwent Tommy John surgery in 2006 and sustained a season-ending elbow strain in July 2009.
"This is the first time in the last couple of years he's pitched back-to-back games," Acta said. "We have to be mindful of that. ... We're going to have to be careful with him, and obviously having Alex helps."
Though White will pitch out of the 'pen for the remainder of the season, Acta stressed that the rookie's future with the club remains as a starter.
"We just want to be careful with him, finish the season with him pitching out of the 'pen and then see what next year brings," Acta said.
Indians' success at home has waned
CLEVELAND -- For the first two months of the season, Progressive Field was the Indians' safe haven, a place of refreshment that always seemed to renew their spark when necessary. Two months later, that Lake Erie luster appears to have worn off.
When the club opened its season in Cleveland amid arctic temperatures and gray skies, the outlook appeared gloomy, as the White Sox thumped the Indians on consecutive days. Then the team rolled off 14 straight wins at home for the third-longest streak in franchise history.
After a sweep of the intra-state rival Reds, followed by a win against the Red Sox on May 23, the Indians stood at 19-5 at home and 30-15 overall, their high-water mark for the season. Late-innings magic fueled the team's hot start at home, from game-deciding squeeze plays to walk-off homers by Travis Hafner and Carlos Santana.
"These guys are not going to give up," skipper Manny Acta said. "They've done it so many times so far that it's like it's never out of reach."
Then the hometown flair faded. The Tribe suffered through a seven-game home losing streak, including a four-game sweep at the hands of the Rangers, who outscored Cleveland in the series, 24-6.
Hafner appeared to re-ignite the spark with a walk-off grand slam against the Blue Jays on July 7. But the Indians dropped the final three games of that series and sputtered into the All-Star break.
"It could have been four straight pretty easily," pitching coach Tim Belcher said. "We probably had no business winning that game. You just try to take the positives out of every defeat that you can and go forward and not focus on them."
Fresh off a pair of losses to the White Sox, the Indians check in at 27-20 at Progressive Field, just 8-15 in their last 23 contests in Cleveland entering Monday's series opener against the Angels.
"We have scuffled, starting in June," Acta said. "I'm not going to sit here and give any more excuses about the guys that we're missing, because obviously, they're not easy to substitute."
The team's hot stretch at home has certainly cooled, but the players believe they're never out of a ballgame.
"We've been pretty consistent getting people excited, whether or not we score ... late in ballgames," pitcher Justin Masterson said. "I think we're still really excited about the team that we've got and our ability to come back late in games."
Quote to note
"I already spent all the time I was going to spend talking about trade talks. I have to win ballgames, and I can't be wasting my time talking about that anymore. I'm not going to give you names. I know what's going on. I already told you how I feel about it. That's good enough for me and should be good enough for you guys, too." -- manager Manny Acta on Monday, tired of talking about the approaching non-waiver Trade Deadline, after saying on Sunday that "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 [acquiring help via trade]."
First baseman Nick Johnson, hitting just .208 at Triple-A Columbus, isn't close to earning a promotion to the big league club, manager Manny Acta said.
"He still needs to continue to work," Acta said. "Our people down there feel that he's swinging the bat better, but he's still not there."
Johnson is a career .270 hitter, with a .401 on-base percentage, over nine Major League seasons.
The Indians outrighted infielder Jared Goedert to Triple-A Columbus on Monday. The club designated him for assignment on Thursday to make room on the 40-man roster for second baseman Jason Kipnis, who made his Major League debut on Friday.
The Indians entered Monday's action having batted .191 as a team over their previous five games. They scored just 13 runs in that span.
Zack Meisel is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.