CLEVELAND -- It will be hard to top what's happened to Thomas Neal the last few days.
The outfielder learned Friday night that he had been called up from Double-A Akron. The Aeros had just clinched the Western Division title in the Eastern League. After the players celebrated on the field, Neal was pulled aside by manager Chris Tremie and coach Rouglas Odor. The message was short and simple: Pack your bags, kid, you're going to Cleveland."It was phenomenal," Neal said. "It couldn't get any better."
The news did get better on Sunday when Neal made his Major League debut against Texas in Sunday's 8-3 loss. He batted fifth and played right field against left-hander Derek Holland. And if that wasn't enough, he got his first hit, an RBI double off Tyler Scheppers in the eighth inning.
Neal overcame a distraction most hitters never have to face in their careers. An airshow was held this weekend at nearby Burke Lakefront Airport, featuring the Blue Angels jets, which were buzzing Progressive Field just as Neal was batting in the eighth.
"That was pretty crazy to have those jets flying over as I'm swinging," he said. "I was telling [Michael] Brantley I couldn't remember what pitch he threw."
Neal struck out in the second and again in the third. He was robbed of a hit in the sixth when shortstop Elvis Andrus made a diving stop of his hard grounder in the hole and made a strong throw to first.
"I tried to approach it like it was the same game [as in the Minors], but it took me about six innings to calm down and get my feet under me a little bit," Neal said.
Neal said he got three baseballs from the game as souvenirs, including the one from his first hit. He plans on giving all three to his parents.
"Without them, I wouldn't be in this situation," he said. "I want to make sure I share some of this with them."
Neal hit .314 with 12 homers, 24 doubles and 51 RBIs in 117 games for Akron. He thought something was up when he wasn't in the lineup for the Aeros on Thursday or Friday. Neal briefly considered he'd been traded, but wasn't sure what to think.
"I wasn't expecting this," he said. "I kind of got the idea that on Thursday when I was in the lineup, but all of a sudden, I got taken out right before the game. We're trying to clinch the division. The following day, I wasn't in the lineup. My teammates started heckling me a little bit about it for a couple of days. So I just waited to see what was going to happen."
Neal, 25, was acquired from the Giants for infielder Orlando Cabrera on July 30, 2011. He was outrighted off the 40-man roster at the end of Spring Training and rejoined the organization after clearing waivers.
"I think it was something that was truly a blessing," Neal said. "I could have either sat there and pouted about it, but they made a business decision and I chose to take care of the business I could control, and that was go out and play the game the way I could play."
Manger Manny Acta said Neal will get at-bats against left-handers. Neal can also play left field.
High pitch counts paramount in Ubaldo's struggles
CLEVELAND -- The Indians are still trying to figure out how to get the best out of Ubaldo Jimenez.
The right-hander is 9-14 with a 5.61 ERA in 27 starts this season. He allowed four runs, eight hits and three walks in 5 2/3 innings and got the loss on Friday night against Texas.
As has been the case many times, a high pitch count hindered Jimenez's effectiveness. He threw a season-high 117 pitches and had baserunners in every inning except the fourth on Friday.
"He was very inconsistent early in the game," Acta said. "It really piled up his pitch count."
Acta would like to see Jimenez be more economical with his pitches, but so far, that hasn't happened. Jimenez has issued 84 walks in 154 innings.
"That's a goal with everybody who takes the mound, but, unfortunately, some guys don't have the same command of a fastball that others do like [Josh] Tomlin did when he was healthy," Acta said. "Ubaldo's not that type of guy. That's ideally what you want. You want a guy that when they're hitting 100 pitches to be in the seventh inning, not just getting out of the fifth."
Acta thinks Jimenez understands he needs to throw fewer pitches, but it hasn't shown up in the results.
"I don't think he's doing that on purpose," Acta said. "I think he wants to get out of the fifth with 50 pitches. The pitching coaches have worked with him. He understands he should be going deeper into the game to help his bullpen and to help us win. Believe me, no one wants to lose, and he doesn't want to go out there and have 100 pitches in the fifth."
Sunday's lineup missing several regulars
CLEVELAND -- The Indians' lineup had a decidedly different look on Sunday.
Shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera was out of the lineup for the second straight day with a sore right wrist. Manager Manny Acta said following Saturday's game that Cabrera wouldn't start on Sunday, but expected him back in the lineup Monday against Detroit.
Right fielder Shin-Soo Choo and center fielder Michael Brantley were also out of the lineup against Texas left-hander Derek Holland. Both players have been in slumps during Cleveland's homestand. Choo is 6-for-30, even though he has hit safely in the last three games. Brantley is in a 6-for-33 skid.
Neither player has had much success against Holland. Choo is hitless in three career at-bats, while Brantley has three hits in eight at-bats.
Russ Canzler and Thomas Neal, both called up from the Minors on Friday, were batting in the fourth and fifth spots and playing left and right field, respectively. Jason Donald batted leadoff and played third base, while Ezequiel Carrera played center field and hit ninth.
Cabrera has also been struggling at the plate. He's in a 4-for-39 slump in his past 12 games. Cabrera was a defensive replacement in the ninth inning of Saturday night's 4-3 win.
Indians recall righty reliever Herrmann
The Indians recalled right-handed reliever Frank Herrmann on Sunday morning, bringing the current big league roster to 29 players.
Herrmann spent the majority of the 2012 season with Triple-A Columbus, going 2-2 with a 4.78 ERA in 42 relief appearances. He was called up to the Indians on Aug. 7, and allowed three earned runs in 5 2/3 innings before he was sent back to Columbus on Aug. 22.
The 28-year-old Herrmann has spent parts of three seasons in the Majors, posting a 4-1 mark with a 4.64 career ERA.
Herrmann is the fourth Indians player to be called up since rosters expanded. Outfielders Russ Canzler and Thomas Neal and reliever Scott Barnes joined the club Saturday.
Quote to note
"I don't treat the ninth inning any differently than the eighth inning. You need to focus, concentrate on the hitter, and get outs."
-- Reliever Vinnie Pestano, who got the save in Saturday's 4-3 win over Texas.
• Manager Manny Acta said closer Chris Perez would rejoin the team on Tuesday in Detroit. Perez's wife Melanie gave birth to a daughter, Madelyn, on Saturday. Perez has recorded 33 of the Indians' 36 saves this season. Vinnie Pestano saved Saturday night's game by recording the final four outs. Tony Sipp and Nick Hagadone, who is out for the season with a broken hand, have one apiece.
• The Indians begin a three-game series in Detroit on Monday afternoon. They won't face Tigers ace Justin Verlander, whom they have beaten twice this season. The second win over Verlander came on July 26 when Cleveland rallied for four runs in the seventh inning. That victory was followed by an 11-game losing streak.
• Cleveland's 4-3 win over Texas on Saturday broke a six-game losing streak and was its first victory since beating the Yankees, 3-2, on Aug. 24. The Indians scored all their runs in the first inning in both games.
Steve Herrick is a contributor to MLB.com. AJ Cassavell is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.