DETROIT -- The way Carlos Santana began his season was certainly a disappointment. A staple in the middle of the Indians lineup after hitting 27 home runs and knocking in 79 RBIs last year, the catcher started the 2012 season hitting .221 with five homers in the first half.
But since the All-Star break, the 26-year-old has been one of the few bright spots on the team. Entering Wednesday's series finale against the Tigers, Santana has been hitting at a .292 clip since the break with nine home runs and 31 RBIs.
"He's using the whole field better," said manager Manny Acta of Santana. "He's staying up the middle better. He's working really hard on that and it has showed."
His season average is up to .250, which is better than last season's .239 mark. Santana has found success while the rest of the offense has struggled, batting .233 as a whole since the break -- the second-worst average in the American League.
Santana's power is still down with 14 home runs in 119 games, but the Indians will take whatever he's doing as long as he's driving in runs. Santana leads the team in runs scored (30), hits (49), home runs (9), RBIs (31), walks (30), average (.292), on-base percentage (.406), and on-base plus slugging percentage (.924) since the break.
"Obviously not having [Travis] Hafner here, it puts a little bit more pressure on him because we need him producing," Acta said. "One guy makes a big difference in a lineup ."
Perez finds redemption with save in Detroit
DETROIT -- For Chris Perez, pitching the ninth inning and earning his 34th save in Tuesday night's 3-2 win over the Tigers was about a little more than giving the Tribe back-to-back wins.
"It was good to get the win, but on top of that I kind of got some redemption," Perez said.
The last time the Indians closer pitched at Comerica Park on Aug. 5, it resulted in one of the most brutal losses of the season. Perez entered the game in the bottom of the 10th inning with a three-run lead and recorded two quick outs. However, the Tigers would rally with two walks and three hits, culminating in a walk-off two-run home run by Miguel Cabrera.
The game abruptly went from 8-5 with the Tribe on top to 10-8 with the Tigers celebrating and their fans roaring as Perez slowly walked off the field. He later took to Twitter calling it the "low point" of his career.
"I'll never forget that," said Perez, still able to recount the moment like it was yesterday. "Two outs, nobody on, No. 8 hitter up, up by three and you lose. That's terrible. That's unacceptable, especially the way we were going too. That was our ninth straight loss. I'll always have that in the back of my mind."
Still, with a one-run lead, manager Manny Acta didn't hesitate to call for his closer.
"That was a long time ago," Acta said after the game. "I don't think Chris was thinking about that ... the guy is showing me that he's able to bounce back from stuff like that all the time. He's got the mentality to be the closer."
Perez, who had just returned to the team after missing a few days with his wife giving birth to their second child, didn't miss a beat as he struck out Prince Fielder and Brennan Boesch to start the inning. But when he got two outs, he admitted the last outing was running through his mind.
"I got two outs, nobody on and I was like, 'Alright, same situation. I can't let this happen. I've got to bear down,'" he said.
Facing Delmon Young, who has been one of Detroit's hottest hitters with two home runs and five RBIs in he previous three games, Perez got a quick groundout to end the game.
"I definitely moved past it, but it's still there," he said. "It's not wiped cleaned. I think it's a disservice to yourself when you do that. Sometimes you need different kinds of motivation and it was a good learning experience."
Acta looks forward after rocky August
DETROIT -- When a team has a historically bad month as the Indians did in August, there's not many positives to take from it. But manager Manny Acta is trying to look on the brighter side, which is easier with the team beginning September with a 3-1 record.
During his pregame session with the media, Acta was asked to look back on how he thought his players handled it, and how he thought they have moved forward from it.
"I think as a team they handled it OK," Acta said. "A few guys, individually, it was very rough on them and obviously it took a toll on them mentally. But hey, that's part of developing character.
"We talked to them about it, and hopefully it helps them down the road. They've gone through it already. And hopefully the next time it happens they're able to draw from those experiences."
Acta, in his third year as Cleveland's manager, was asked how he thought he handled it.
"It was hard on me, but I can handle that stuff because I'm not a player," he said. "Forty-something years old, I've been through rebuilding processes before. I mean, it's never easy, but the main job is just for you to try to keep everybody else around you upbeat and try to make them believe in what you're believing."
And what the Indians are believing right now is that they can play spoiler and have a say in who wins the division between the Tigers and White Sox. Including Wednesday's game, 10 of their final 26 are against the two clubs.
Anthony Odoardi is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.