DETROIT -- Manny Acta might be hesitant to relax in the later innings of tight ballgames, but the Indians manager sure likes his chances when he has the chance to put a contest in the hands of setup man Vinnie Pestano and closer Chris Perez.
Over the past two seasons, the duo has developed into one of the best combinations in baseball.
"It's very comforting to me when we have a lead in the eighth," Acta said. "I mean, I tip my hat to the other club if they beat us, but I'd put those guys against anybody right now. More times than not, they have come out on top."
Entering Thursday's game against the Tigers, Perez led the Major Leagues with 19 saves and Pestano paced baseball's setup men with 15 holds. The pair of late-inning relievers have appeared in each of Cleveland's five wins over Detroit, combing for 10 strikeouts in 10 innings with just one run relinquished.
On the season, Pestano and Perez have teamed for a 2.49 ERA and a 1.02 WHIP, piling up 52 strikeouts and just 16 walks across 47 innings.
"The last two years it's been pretty good," said Perez, who made the American League All-Star team last season in his first full tour as the Tribe's stopper. "Vinnie's done an outstanding job. he makes it look easy out there. The last two years he's been doing it. Us down there in the bullpen, we just want that lead."
Perez entered Thursday with a 2.70 ERA in 25 appearances, but he had a 1.59 ERA and 19 saves in as many chances over his last 24 outings.
As for Pestano, the righty headed into the finale of the three-game series in Detroit sporting a 2.28 ERA with 31 strikeouts in 23 2/3 innings. Pestano, who took over as Cleveland's primary eighth-inning arm as a rookie a year ago, has enjoyed the chance to bridge the gap to Perez.
"I try and go out there and obviously do the quickest job I can to get the ball to him," Pestano said. "And he's doing exactly what he does. He goes out there and saves games for us. He's done a tremendous job doing that. It's great knowing you have that coming behind you."