Pestano building off Wednesday's successful outing

Pestano building off Wednesday's successful outing

Pestano building off Wednesday's successful outing

CLEVELAND -- In Wednesday's meeting with Toronto, reliever Vinnie Pestano made his first appearance since blowing a three-run lead in the eighth inning on Sunday against Detroit, an event that led manager Terry Francona to remove Pestano from his usual setup duties. The Indians eventually won the game, 9-6.

Pestano entered in the eighth inning on Wednesday with one out and the Tribe trailing by a run. He induced flyouts from Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion -- two of the Blue Jays' most dangerous hitters -- to keep the game close and send it to the bottom of the inning.

"I'm not going to blow it out of proportion," Pestano said the next day. "It was two outs. It's not like I threw 20 scoreless and I'm back on track."

This season has perhaps been the most challenging in Pestano's big league career. The right-hander missed time in May with right elbow tendinitis. In 22 games since his return, he has a 5.48 ERA with a hold and six saves in nine chances. Over that stretch of 21 1/3 innings, Pestano has given up five homers while racking up 22 strikeouts and handing out 12 walks.

The most recent home run he allowed, a three-run shot by Torii Hunter that pulled Sunday's contest into a 6-6 tie, resulted in Francona's decision to detach Pestano from the inning in which he's so used to pitching.

"I wasn't happy, obviously, with getting that eighth inning taken away, but it needed to happen for the team," said Pestano, who made plenty of appearances in the ninth while closer Chris Perez was injured. "Throwing the way I've thrown, being in that position wasn't helping anybody.

"I don't have any goals. I don't have any plans. Obviously, I'm very comfortable in the eighth inning. Took a lot of pride in the job that I had there."

Before going on the disabled list with elbow problems, Pestano notched four holds and assembled a 2.25 ERA over his first eight games. In that span, he held hitters to a .185 average. Since the reliever's return from the injury, opposing batters have a .282 average against him.

"I've had to do a lot of things this year that I haven't had to in the past -- look at video, try and find problems with my mechanics. It's been a grind," Pestano said. "It's not something that just came out of nowhere. It's been something that I've been steadily working on since coming off the DL, and it seems like each time a part of what I'm trying to work on starts clicking, some other part falls out of place."

In 30 games this year, Pestano is 1-2 with a 4.60 ERA. He has five holds, six saves and three blown saves.

"I was happy to get in there last night," Pestano said. "Hopefully, it's something to build off of."

Mark Emery is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.