CLE@CWS: Pestano strikes out De Aza to earn the save

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."

Guilmet optioned to make room for Salazar

Top Prospects: Danny Salazar, RHP, Indians

CLEVELAND -- Though Danny Salazar was present in the Tribe clubhouse on Wednesday, he wasn't officially recalled from Triple-A Columbus until Thursday. In a corresponding roster move, the Indians optioned reliever Preston Guilmet to the Clippers.

Salazar, 23, made his Major League debut on Thursday against a Toronto lineup that came from behind to win a 5-4 game against Cleveland on Wednesday. But the Tribe shut out the Blue Jays in Tuesday's series opener, and a strong outing from Salazar in the finale could help clinch the series.

"You only get one first game, and that's not going to dictate his career by any means," Cleveland manager Terry Francona said on Wednesday. "But it's fun to watch guys, how they act. [We're] certainly interested in how they throw. When he exits that game, I hope we have a big lead."

A right-hander from the Dominican Republic, Salazar has made 17 starts this season -- seven for Double-A Akron and 10 for Triple-A Columbus. In 76 innings, he's 5-5 with a 3.08 ERA. The righty has given up four homers while issuing 23 walks and striking out 100, tops among the organization's Minor League pitchers.

Salazar, Cleveland's eighth-best prospect according to MLB.com, underwent Tommy John surgery in August 2010 and made just eight starts in 2011. This season, Salazar is averaging 11.8 strikeouts per nine innings, and he enters Thursday's outing having not allowed an earned run over his last 16 frames.

"Hopefully, it goes great." Francona said. "But like I said, whether he throws five or six no-hit innings, or he gets hit around a little bit, that doesn't dictate how his career's going to be."

To create space for Salazar, the Tribe sent down Guilmet, who made his Major League debut against Toronto on Wednesday. Guilmet relieved starter Justin Masterson in the seventh inning after the Blue Jays grabbed a 2-1 lead.

With two outs and men on second and third, Guilmet struck out Munenori Kawasaki to end the threat, and he began the eighth by inducing a groundout from Jose Reyes. At that point, Francona replaced Guilmet with Vinnie Pestano.

"I just wanted to come in there and try not to put that guy on and go after him," Guilmet said after the game. "It was absolutely incredible. There's no words than can explain the feeling. It was fun to get out there."

Smoke signals

• A win against Toronto in Thursday's series finale would give the Indians their first series win over the Blue Jays since taking six of 10 meetings in 2010. Entering Thursday's matchup, the Tribe is 3-2 against Toronto this season.

• The Indians will faced a Cy Young Award winner for the 12th time this season on Thursday with R.A. Dickey, last year's winner in the National League. In the first 11 such games, Cleveland went 7-4 and opposing starters came away with a combined 7.18 ERA.

• David M. Evans, who directed and cowrote "The Sandlot," threw out the ceremonial first pitch on Thursday at Progressive Field. Evans was on hand to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the film that made heroes out of characters such as Benny "The Jet" Rodriguez, Scotty Smalls and Michael "Squints" Palledorous.

Quote to note

"Try to keep it as normal as possible, because it's not a normal day -- your first day in the Major Leagues. Try to, again, have him here tonight. Get the handshakes out of the way and all that, and let him watch the game a little bit. Just try to treat it as much of a normal day as you can." -- Francona, when asked Wednesday about helping a player on the cusp of his Major League debut, such as Salazar