This was one of Manny Acta's bolder commitments in his three years as manager of the Indians. The Indians were scheduled to play a doubleheader against the Chicago White Sox Monday, and Acta decided he was going to play the doubleheader without using his two top relievers.
Closer Chris Perez and setup man Vinnie Pestano had both been used heavily in a weekend series with Texas. Acta felt it was important to give both relievers a day off Monday, even if the Indians were playing two games.
It got a little hairy in both games, but Acta's gamble paid off. He did not use Perez or Pestano, and the Indians still managed to sweep the doubleheader, winning the first game 8-6 and the nightcap 3-2.
There were saves in both games, but neither went to Perez, who leads the majors with 11. Nick Hagadone got the save in the first game and Tony Sipp got it in the second game. It was Hagadone's first career save and Sipp's second career save.
Acta admitted that it's not easy going into a doubleheader and sticking to your plan of giving your two most important relievers a day off. "It's hard," he said. "It's so tempting (to use your best relievers) because you know that every game is important. But we've got to pick our battles. Those guys (Perez and Pestano) have thrown a lot."
The bullpen has been the Indians' strength the last two years. Acta knows that if they are going to be contenders in 2012, they will have to rely again on a bullpen that has plenty of depth, one star (Perez) and one emerging star (Pestano).
Acta's actions Monday showed that he is prepared to go to extremes to make sure he doesn't overwork his two key relievers. He rolled the dice in a big way in the doubleheader, and won his gamble as the Indians won both games.
NOTES, QUOTESMcAllister earns first victory in majors
--RHP Zach McAllister pitched six innings and allowed two earned runs to pick up his first major league win, 8-6 over the White Sox in the first game of Monday's doubleheader. "He was outstanding. He gave us exactly what we needed," said manager Manny Acta.
--LHP Nick Hagadone picked up his first major league save in the Indians' 8-6 win over Chicago in the first game of Monday's doubleheader. Manager Manny Acta did not want to use closer RHP Chris Perez in the doubleheader, because Perez had pitched a lot in the last few days and needed a day off. Hagadone picked up the slack. "It's great knowing Manny has the confidence in me to put me in a situation like that," Hagadone said.
--RHP Chris Perez, who was given a day off Monday, had saves in 11 of the Indians' first 15 victories. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, that matches the Indians' record for fewest wins into a season that a reliever had reached 11 saves. Doug Jones did it in 1990.
--OF Shin-Shoo Choo missed six games (April 24-May 1) with a strained left hamstring. Choo was hitting .237 at the time of his injury. In six games since his return he is hitting .174 (4-23) with 1 home run and 2 RBI.
--DH Travis Hafner's home run in the first game of Monday's doubleheader was the 192nd of his career with the Indians. That ties him with Al Rosen for eighth place on the Indians' all-time list. No.7 on that list is Andre Thornton with 214. Hafner also tripled in the game, his first triple since May 29, 2007 at Fenway Park. Hafner went 1,711 at bats between triples. "That was fun to see," said manager Manny Acta. "The whole dugout was screaming."
BY THE NUMBERS: 79 -- Number of times DH Travis Hafner has been hit by a pitch as a member of the Indians. That ties him with Napoleon Lajoie for the most in club history.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I was thinking double and was forced into a triple." -- DH Travis Hafner, whose drive off the center field wall at Progressive Field in the first game of Monday's doubleheader resulted in his first triple in five years and 1,711 at bats.
ROSTER REPORTMEDICAL WATCH:
--LHP Rafael Perez (strained left lat muscle) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to April 26.
--OF Grady Sizemore (back surgery in March 2012) went on the 60-day disabled list April 4. He was cleared to begin baseball activities in late April, and he might be able to return as soon as he is eligible.
--RHP Carlos Carrasco (Tommy John surgery in September 2011) went on the 60-day disabled list March 26. He might miss the entire season.