CLEVELAND: The Indians’ August collapse took the air out of the season in a hurry, but the team probably was an accident waiting to happen.
“When people say that you win with pitching and defense, they don’t mean the bullpen,” Tribe manager Manny Acta said Saturday. “What people mean is the starting pitching. What we needed was for guys in the rotation to step up for us.
“We didn’t get better; we got worse. You can expect and project all you want, but you can’t predict anything. The only consistent parts of our team were the defense and back end of the bullpen. And in order to get to those things, you have to get past the fifth or sixth inning [with a lead].”
LOOKING AHEAD — Are the Indians a lost cause for 2013? Acta believes there is a solid foundation to work with.
“We are good up the middle; second base, shortstop, catcher and center field are taken care of,’’ the manager said, referring to Jason Kipnis, Asdrubal Cabrera, Carlos Santana and Michael Brantley.
“I think Carlos Carrasco could add a lot to the rotation. And I think Justin [Masterson] and Ubaldo [Jimenez] are better than that.”
Carrasco has been on a rehab assignment after undergoing elbow reconstruction surgery last year. Masterson and Jimenez have had disappointing seasons, especially Jimenez, who leads the league in losses with 16 and is second from the bottom with a 5.52 ERA.
“His stuff has been more consistent [recently],” Acta said. “We have to understand that we’re not getting the guy who threw 97-98 for Colorado. Since Aug. 4, he’s right up there with [Max] Scherzer and [Justin] Verlander in strikeouts. What hurts is on balls put in play, guys are hitting .400 against him. He has to improve on his command.”
DONALD UPDATE —X-rays were negative on Jason Donald’s right hand, and he is listed day to day after being hit by a Verlander pitch Friday night.
“He’s pretty sore,” Acta said. “We can use him to run and play defense right now.”
— Sheldon Ocker