CLEVELAND -- The Indians are nearing the end of one of the worst months in the history of the franchise. Setup man Vinnie Pestano feels partially responsible for the club's downward spiral over the past few weeks.
"I'm really ready for August to be over," Pestano said. "I've just never been this disgusted and embarrassed with myself than in the past two weeks. You go from four and a half months grinding it out to [giving] it away in three or four appearances.
"It's pretty embarrassing. I'm just not being able to locate anything. I'm having no feel for either pitch. It's getting pretty old."
On the season, Pestano has gone 3-1 with a 2.08 ERA in 56 appearances, piling up 62 strikeouts against 21 walks over 56 1/3 innings. Along the way, the right-hander has collected a Major League-leading 33 holds, which is also a single-season club record.
Pestano's performance has lagged of late, though.
Over his last five relief outings, Pestano has surrendered six runs on eight hits over 5 1/3 innings, posting a 10.13 ERA and allowing a .348 opponents' average in that span. In Wednesday's 8-4 loss, the setup man yielded two runs on three hits in the eighth inning, helping the A's take a four-run lead.
It was a discouraging turn for Pestano, especially considering Cleveland has dropped 26 of its past 31 games.
"It's just frustrating. I don't have the words," Pestano said. "I know for a fact that I've never been in this position before, to go on this bad of a stretch. It just [stinks]. It takes the wind out of you. You can talk all you want. For the first four and a half months of the season, I can say whatever I want to say and do whatever I want to do.
"What it comes down to is, when the team's needed me the most, over the past two weeks, I haven't gotten the job done. That's not acceptable."
Asdrubal feels Acta not to blame for recent struggles
CLEVELAND -- The last thing Asdrubal Cabrera wants is to see manager Manny Acta take the fall for the Indians' struggles this season. The way the shortstop sees it, Acta is not to blame for the team's tumble down the standings.
"Everybody worries about that," Cabrera said on Thursday morning. "We don't want anybody losing a job here. This is our team and we've got to be together. We've got to pull everything together and try to get everybody happy in here."
Entering Thursday's matinee against the A's, the Indians were just 5-26 over their past 31 games, sliding from 3 1/2 to 17 1/2 games out of first place in the American League Central in the process. Cleveland headed into Thursday's game just two games above the Twins for the AL's worst record.
Cabrera feels managers are too often blamed for such results.
"It's not the manager's fault," Cabrera said. "He doesn't hit, he doesn't pitch, he doesn't throw and he doesn't play defense. We're bad right now. Everything is bad right now -- defense, hitting, pitchers. It's not [Acta's] fault. He does his job."
Indians CEO Paul Dolan indicated earlier this month that the jobs of Acta and general manager Chris Antonetti were safe for now, but he noted that the organization will evaluate what has gone wrong, and look for solutions, after the season.
Cabrera thought Acta did a good job of coming to his defense in the first inning of Wednesday's 8-4 loss to Oakland. Cabrera was ejected from the contest by home-plate umpire Gary Darling for angrily arguing a called third strike, but Acta got between both men before things got out of hand.
"I lost my mind in that moment," Cabrera said. "That's really hard, but there's nothing you can do. It happens. It was really good for Manny to be there and take me out."
Santana starts day after being pulled for lack of hustle
CLEVELAND -- Carlos Santana did not know if he would see his name in the Indians' lineup when he arrived at Progressive Field on Thursday morning for the team's game against Oakland. Santana was relieved to learn he was included.
One night earlier, Indians manager Manny Acta removed Santana from the club's 8-4 loss due to a lack of hustle.
"I worried," Santana said on Thursday. "He knows, and everybody knows, I want to play every day. After what happened last night, I wasn't sure if I'd play today."
Cleveland's regular catcher was in the lineup as the designated hitter, in the fifth spot of the batting order.
Santana went 1-for-3 in Wednesday's loss, but was pulled from the game after running slowly up the first-base line on a groundout in the sixth inning. He was replaced by backup catcher Lou Marson in the field in the seventh. After the game, Acta said Santana looked "sluggish" in the field.
"We can be beat, but we're not going to be looking beaten," Acta said. "We need full effort from everybody."
Santana said his slow trot up the line stemmed from being upset with himself.
"It's something I'll learn from," he said. "I was running like that because I was mad about the pitch. It was a good pitch and I got a ground ball to third base. I was so mad at myself. I want to help the team."
Santana has been on an upswing of late, hitting .282 with a .402 on-base percentage, eight home runs, 10 doubles and 27 RBIs in his last 47 games, entering Thursday. In his previous 67 games, the catcher hit .219 with a .336 OBP, five homers, 12 doubles and 29 RBIs for Cleveland.
The catcher's recent improvement, however, has done little to help the team's place in the standings.
"The team is in a bad situation," Santana said. "But I'll be all right. I'll be giving everything 100 percent."
Indians manager Manny Acta was pleased with what he saw from rookie right-hander Corey Kluber in Wednesday's 8-4 loss to the A's. Kluber gave up four runs (three earned) in six innings, ending with seven strikeouts and no walks. Acta felt it was a step in the right direction for Kluber, who has a 2.25 ERA over his last three starts.
"It's very encouraging to see the way Corey threw the ball," Acta said. "That's what this is all about. Take a look at these guys, see how much progress they make, and if they can make a contribution here going forward. He pounded the strike zone and was very aggressive."
Cleveland has not fared well in afternoon games this season. Entering Thursday's 12:05 p.m. ET tilt with Oakland, the Indians were just 16-30 (.348 winning percentage) in day games this season. That was the second-lowest winning percentage (Kansas City, .333) in day games this season for an American League club.
Indians rookie reliever Cody Allen cruised through his first 12 Major League appearances (13 2/3 innings) without allowing a run (earned or unearned). In his last three outings (four innings), however, the young right-hander has given up four earned runs.
Quote to note
"It's really hard right now to be playing like that, losing every day. There's nothing to lose now. We've just got to go about it every day, try to win each game, and try the best we can for the city and for the fans."
-- Indians shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera