6/20/2013 12:40 A.M. ET
Indians looking to cut down costly mistakes
By Mark Emery / MLB.com
CLEVELAND -- The Indians opened their nine-game homestand with a 3-2 record following Tuesday's 4-3 win over the Royals, but that's largely been despite their defense, not because of it.
Over those last five contests, the Tribe committed six errors and six wild pitches. Second baseman Jason Kipnis said there's no real way to explain an error -- or a bunch of them -- and he believes defense is one of Cleveland's strengths.
"Sometimes, you're mentally locked in more than other days," said Kipnis, who made a nice diving stop in Tuesday's win. "Sometimes, you're clicking on all cylinders on both sides of the ball, on offense and defense. It just comes down to kind of a little bit of being accountable and taking defense as serious as you take offense. A lot of guys worry about hitting and how they're going at the plate, and don't really take the full, I guess, concern out to defense. But, I think that happens all around the league."
Defensive miscues played a role in both losses. On Saturday, Washington's Anthony Rendon hit a two-out, go-ahead home run in the ninth inning, moments after a catchable popup landed between Nick Swisher and Kipnis in foul territory. Then, on Monday, Kansas City scored the go-ahead run in the ninth inning, when a curveball from reliever Matt Albers went though Carlos Santana's legs for a wild pitch, allowing Elliot Johnson to score from third.
"The only way it's deflating is that we know we're not making the other team earn it as much," Kipnis said. "We're shooting ourselves in the foot a little bit. That being said, they happen to every single team. They're part of the game. We trust our catchers back there and it's going to happen, we know that. It just comes down to really concentrating on defense and making sure everyone's doing their job."
Mike Aviles had a pair of errors on Saturday, and John McDonald, Mark Reynolds and Cody Allen have each been charged with one, in addition to Swisher. Albers and Ubaldo Jimenez have each unleashed two wild pitches, while Justin Masterson and Scott Kazmir both had one.
Santana has been behind the plate for all six wild pitches of the homestand. Overall, 31 have gotten away from him, more than any other catcher in baseball.
"I know he's putting in a little extra work with Sandy [Alomar Jr.]," manager Terry Francona said. "I think he's got into a little bit of a rut where he's getting high, and then balls are getting down below him a little bit."
Yan Gomes caught Sunday's game, which was the only one of the homestand that did not feature a wild pitch.
"With the wild pitches and stuff like that, it just comes down to the pitcher and catcher," Kipnis said. "It comes down to blocking the ball up and, I know sometimes it just happens, sometimes the ball just skips away. It's definitely an important part of the game where the pitcher, in a big out or a big situation, wants to be able to trust the catcher to throw that breaking ball in the dirt to try to get the hitter to swing at it.
"I mean, everyone knows, Santana's working hard back there. He's trying what he can. But, right now, it's happening. It's unfortunate. There's no way to explain it other than that he's trying to do what he can back there. It's just been happening, that's all."
Perez to be re-evaluated after Friday session
CLEVELAND -- Indians closer Chris Perez thought he'd be activated from the 15-day disabled list on Friday for the start of a series against the Minnesota Twins.
That was before his tough rehab appearance on Tuesday, when he served up three homers in a five-run inning for Double-A Akron. On Wednesday, Tribe manager Terry Francona told reporters that Perez was scheduled to throw a bullpen session on Friday.
"The good news is, physically, he feels really good," Francona said before Wednesday's 6-3 win over the Royals. "Mechanically, I think he's fighting it a little bit."
Perez, who went on the DL on May 27 with a right shoulder strain, allowed five hits and struck out two in the 23-pitch outing for Akron. Francona said the team would evaluate Perez again after Friday's bullpen session.
"He will come in tomorrow, get some treatment and play catch, and throw a bullpen on Friday," Francona said. "Then, we'll go from there."
Francona also said Perez went over recent video with pitching coach Mickey Callaway and bullpen coach Kevin Cash on Wednesday. Apparently, Perez was coming open a little too soon in his delivery, which detracted from the closer's velocity.
"He also had gotten away from the extended long toss as he was coming back," Francona said. "I think he thinks that'll help him a bunch, too."
In 17 appearances for the Indians this season, Perez is 6-for-8 in save opportunities and owns a 4.32 ERA.
"He understands [that] when he comes in, pitches the ninth inning, game's on the line, he's got to be in top form or pretty [darn] close to it," Francona said. "And so, we're going to make sure we get him there."
Santana continues to raise offensive game
CLEVELAND -- Indians catcher Carlos Santana extended his hitting streak to 10 games when he lined a fastball into right field for a single during the second inning of Tuesday's 4-3 win over the Royals.
Over his past 10 games entering Wednesday's series finale, Santana batted .324 (11-for-34) with four doubles and two homers. The catcher also has seven RBIs and three runs during the career-best streak, which began on June 8 at Detroit.
The streak ended in Wednesday's 6-3 win over Kansas City, when Santana went 0-for-3 with a bases-loaded walk and two strikeouts.
"What he does from the catcher's position, offensively, is probably, I don't know, it's got to be about as good as anybody in the league," Indians skipper Terry Francona said. "He grinds out at-bats so well. His walk-to-strikeout rate is so good, and he's, what, third in the league in walks. That's hard to do."
Santana has 51 strikeouts and 39 walks, four fewer than American League-leader Miguel Cabrera. Among AL catchers, Santana is near the top in most offensive categories, and no other backstop in the league can top his .496 slugging percentage.
Lately, Santana has hit like the same player who batted .395 with five home runs over the season's first 21 games. A .180 average during the next 29 games dropped Santana's season total to .273, but he has since lifted it to .285.
When Santana was slumping, Francona talked about the physical toll that comes with the catcher's position and how it has a tendency of wearing players down. Whether that was the case, Santana hasn't appeared to be too uncomfortable at the plate over the last couple weeks or so.
"If you make a mistake, he hits it," Francona said. "There's a lot of things offensively that he does that's really good. If he were a position player, he'd still be a good player. But the fact that he's a catcher makes him a great player."
Quote to note
"He competes his [butt] off. He'll never give in. He's not scared."
-- Indians manager Terry Francona on reliever Vinnie Pestano, who recorded the save in Tuesday night's 4-3 win over the Royals.
• Indians right-hander Zach McAllister was not scheduled to throw on Wednesday. He played catch the last couple days and will do so again on Thursday. The starter has been on the 15-day disabled list since June 8 with a right middle finger strain. At this point, it's still too early for McAllister to think about throwing a curveball, and he can't speculate as to when he'll make his next start.
• The Tribe on Wednesday announced the signings of two more selections from the 2013 First-Year Player Draft. Fifth-round pick Sean Brady, a left-handed pitcher from the prep ranks, signed a day after the club came to terms with 37th-round selection Garrett Smith, an infielder out of California Lutheran. The Indians have signed 16 of their 39 Draft picks.
• The first two of the three-game series against Kansas City were decided by one run. In games decided by a single run entering Wednesday's finale, Cleveland is 13-7, the best mark in the Major Leagues. Since the 2009 season, the Indians are 109-87 in one-run games, which gives them the third-best winning percentage in the bigs.
Mark Emery is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.