CLEVELAND -- Vinnie Pestano had been looking forward to Saturday's spring from the bullpen to the mound at Progressive Field. When called upon in the sixth inning to face the Mets, Pestano was welcomed back to the Tribe with a warm reception from the fans on hand.
"The crowd gave me some nice fanfare," Pestano said on Sunday morning. "That was the only positive thing to come out of my experience yesterday."
In his first appearance for the Indians since being demoted to Triple-A Columbus in late July, Pestano allowed a pair of run-scoring hits in Cleveland's 9-4 victory over New York. It was another disappointing episode in what has been a turbulent season for the Indians' former setup man.
Pestano endured a trip to the disabled list in May due to a right elbow injury and was sent to Columbus in July after command and velocity woes persisted. The right-hander went to Triple-A, focused on his mechanics, improved his physical condition and hoped the results would show once back on the big league stage for Cleveland.
In the sixth inning on Saturday, Justin Turner turned a fastball from Pestano into a two-run double, and Juan Lagares followed by pushing a breaking ball into right field for an RBI single. Cleveland had its five-run lead slashed to two runs, but went on to pull away from the Mets later in the ballgame.
"Whether he would admit it or not, I'm sure there was some added pressure," Indians bullpen coach Kevin Cash said. "I think you take the approach of, it's just two batters. He's going to get more opportunities to hopefully get him going a little bit."
Pestano, who has a 4.32 ERA in 35 appearances this season, had a different take on the situation.
"Two batters, you can't read too much into it -- I don't necessarily agree with that," Pestano said. "I've been battling all year. The minute I think I've got something figured out, I go out there and the results just aren't there. It's just getting really frustrating. I'm still the same pitcher in my head, but I'm just not throwing the same way like I'm used to.
"It's late, it's been a long year, DL, all that stuff. It's just been a really difficult year. A lot of guys in this clubhouse, and a lot of guys on our staff, they haven't seen me at my best. So it's tough to come in here sometimes and look guys in the eyes after you cash in their runs, and you're supposed to be the player that you are, and you're just not even playing up to half that capability.
"Last night, I didn't know where the bottom was. Another level just keeps opening up and I keep falling down. But, I keep standing up. I keep answering the bell. I'm not going to quit. I'm going to battle for every pitch I can."
Giambi records 2,000th career hit with single
CLEVELAND -- Jason Giambi did not waste any time in the ninth inning on Sunday afternoon. The aging slugger offered at the first fastball he saw from Mets closer LaTroy Hawkins, dropping the baseball down the line and into shallow left field for an unlikely single.
For Giambi, the base hit was a long time coming.
With that flare off a former teammate, Giambi reached 2,000 hits for his career, becoming the 245th player in baseball history to achieve that milestone. The designated hitter was disappointed that the Indians dropped a 2-1 decision to New York, but that did not stop him from appreciating the moment.
"It's been a long journey," Giambi said. "With all the ups and downs and things I've gone through, it feels like 4,000. I'll definitely take it and I'll treasure it, for sure."
The 42-year-old Giambi has played in 19 Major League seasons between tours with the A's, Yankees, Rockies and Indians. Over the winter, he interviewed as a managerial candidate with Colorado, but that did not dim his desire to keep playing. The Indians inked him to a Minor League deal, but have carried him since Opening Day as a part-time DH, pinch-hitter and clubhouse leader.
Through 63 games for the Indians, Giambi has hit just .186, but he has contributed eight home runs and 29 RBIs in 172 at-bats.
Giambi -- a five-time All-Star and the American League Most Valuable Player in 2000 -- said he was thrilled to collect his 2,000th hit against Hawkins, who was a teammate of his with the Yankees in 2008.
"The thing that's going to be most special," Giambi said, "is who I got it off of in Troy, who I have the utmost respect for not only as a player, but as a human being. That's going to mean more to me over my career than that hit."
Giambi has come to terms with the fact that reaching 3,000 hits is unrealistic.
"I'll have a walker by the time that happens," he said with a laugh.
Carrasco thriving out of the bullpen for Indians
CLEVELAND -- The Indians are still holding out hope that Carlos Carrasco can someday emerge as an overpowering starting pitcher. For the time being, Cleveland is content with the power option it has coming out of the bullpen.
Since being shifted to the Tribe's relief corps, Carrasco has put his power fastball on full display, minimizing mistakes along the way and providing Cleveland with a long-relief option.
"Maybe pitching out of the bullpen allows you to simplify some things," Indians bullpen coach Kevin Cash said. "I think everybody has kind of stressed to him that, 'When you come in and get those appearances out of the 'pen, think of yourself more as a power pitcher.'"
In five relief outings this season, Carrasco has picked up one win while spinning 11 2/3 shutout innings, during which he has nine strikeouts against four walks. Over his past four relief appearances, dating back to Aug. 20, hitters have posted just a .095 (2-for-21) average against the right-hander.
Carrasco's showing as a reliever has been a drastic contrast to his performance this year as a starter. In that role, the righty went 0-4 with a 9.00 ERA in seven outings.
"The reason that I'm pitching good out of the bullpen," Carrasco said, "is I never think about when the time is coming to pitch. As a starter, you have four days to think about how you're going to attack the hitters and everything. In the bullpen, I just wait for [pitching coach Mickey Callaway] to call so I can get ready. That's made me more comfortable.
"And, to be honest, out of the bullpen, I come at the hitters more aggressive."
Since converting to a relief role, Carrasco has thrown roughly the same percentage of fastballs, but he has dramatically reduced his usage of curveballs. The right-hander has focused on countering his fastball with his slider and changeup.
"Going forward, eventually he's going to be best served as a starter," Cash said. "He's going to help us the most that way. But what he's done here the last month has definitely opened some eyes like, 'You know what? This isn't that bad of a situation to have.' He's been outstanding."
Tomlin patiently waiting for his return to the hill
CLEVELAND -- It has been more than a year since Josh Tomlin pitched for the Indians. The right-hander is back with the team as part of September callups, following a comeback from Tommy John surgery on his throwing elbow, and patiently awaiting his return to the mound.
Tomlin knows his time will come.
"I'll get in there eventually. I'm not complaining," Tomlin said with a smile on Sunday morning. "We're winning. I mean, don't get me wrong, I want to pitch, but they're doing a pretty good job right now."
Part of the problem is that Tomlin is a man without a clear role at the moment.
Cleveland's rotation, which included Tomlin for much of the past two seasons, is maxed out and the team's bullpen boasts 15 arms right now. Tomlin is available out of the bullpen as a long reliever, but there is no firm schedule for when the right-hander might appear in a game.
When Tomlin does toe the rubber again for the Tribe, it will mark his first big league action since Aug. 12 of last season. After that ill-fated performance against the Red Sox, who pounded him for seven runs, Tomlin was shelved and eventually underwent reconstructive elbow surgery on Aug. 22.
Tomlin spent the bulk of this season rehabbing and looked strong in his return to Minor League games, posting a 1.65 ERA with 21 strikeouts and no walks in 27 1/3 innings across 10 appearances. In that sense, Tomlin's comeback has already been a success, and the pitcher plans on laying low this winter in preparation for next season.
"I'll go home, try to get strong and get ready for 2014," said Tomlin, who went 12-7 with a 4.25 ERA in his best season with the Tribe in 2011. "I went through this process and didn't have any setbacks or anything like that. I feel like I've progressed pretty quick."
Quote to note
"We're in a playoff race in September. This is what we've been trying to do for the past two years. It's just tough not being a big part of that. I still can go around and pick guys up and be a good teammate, and make sure things are loose in here and stuff like that. But I don't know what the rest of the season has in store for me."
• Entering Sunday's game with the Mets, the Indians had a 3.30 ERA (153 earned runs in 416 2/3 innings) in 46 games since the All-Star break. That marked the second-lowest team ERA in the American League over that span, trailing only Kansas City (3.05).
• Cleveland entered Sunday's action with an 11-8 record in Interleague Play this season. The Tribe's pitching staff has posted a 3.12 ERA against National League foes, representing the fourth-best Interleague ERA among AL teams.
• Dating back to Aug. 11, Nick Swisher has averaged 16.3 at-bats per home run and 5.8 at-bats per RBI across 24 games (98 at-bats). In his previous 101 games (375 at-bats), Swisher averaged 34.1 at-bats per home run and 10.7 at-bats per RBI for the Indians.