CLEVELAND -- Tony Sipp's perfect seventh inning on Saturday night was his fourth consecutive appearance without allowing a hit. It may be baby steps, but it's still progress for a pitcher who has struggled for much of the season.
"It's good to see," manager Manny Acta said. "We need him big, especially since [Rafael Perez] isn't back yet. The main thing is, [opponents have] been pinch-hitting and stuff, and he's been getting some right-handers."
Sipp used to be a reliable left-handed guy out of the bullpen for Acta. Acta could go to him to get a lefty out in a key situation or if one of his back-end pitchers needed a day off.
But Sipp hasn't been the same consistent pitcher this season. After posting a 3.03 ERA with 24 holds in 2011, he entered Sunday's game against the Rays with a 5.72 ERA in 33 appearances.
Sipp struggled to come up with a reason for his inconsistent results this season.
"I'm going out there with the same stuff that I had," Sipp said. "This sport will humble you. Some days, you can go out there with the same stuff that you have, and it doesn't work.
"It's really frustrating. Being any type of professional athlete, you're used to [having] more success than you have downfalls. It's been a new experience for me, to say the least. It's just more frustrating because you know you're better than the results that you're putting out there. It was a trying time. You can definitely tell what you're made of in the trying times. Now, it actually helped me out, because now I know, even if I do struggle a little bit, everything comes in phases."
With Sipp's recent success, the Indians are hopeful they've found an answer to their left-handed bullpen issues. Cleveland optioned Nick Hagadone to Triple-A Columbus on Saturday because of his struggles, and the Indians have yet to find a reliable option in that role.
"I hope he's building his confidence and I'll have the guy I've had here for the last three years," Acta said.