Indians send Pestano down to minors

Cleveland Indians manager Terry Francona (left) takes the ball from relief pitcher Vinnie Pestano.

CLEVELAND — Vinnie Pestano said on Saturday that he was pitching for his livelihood. After Tuesday’s performance against the Padres, everyone pretty much knew what the next step was going to be.

The Indians sent Pestano down to Triple-A Columbus before Wednesday’s doubleheader against San Diego and have recalled C.C. Lee. It is the second time in nine months that Pestano has been sent down after being one of the top setup guys in 2011 and ’12. In 2012, he set a club record with 36 holds.

In his first six appearances during spring training this year, Pestano allowed only one earned run in six innings. In his last six (three spring and three regular season), he has allowed 11 earned runs in 4 2/3 innings.

Tuesday’s game against the Padres might have been the most painful. Pestano came out to begin the ninth with an 8-3 lead and four pitches in gave up a home run to Xavier Nady to left-center on a 1-2 slider. After getting Everth Cabrera on a bunt attempt where Nick Swisher did a good job to stay on first despite an errant throw, Chris Denofria tripled on a 2-2 fastball.

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Pestano struck out Chase Headley and appeared to be getting out of the inning when Yonder Alonso hit a grounder to Swisher, but he wasn’t able to handle it as Denofria scored. After Alonso stole second, Yasmani Grandal singled to right and Pestano’s day was done as John Axford came on to get the final out as the Tribe won 8-6. Of the six batters Pestano faced, three got hits and one struck out. He allowed three runs with one earned.

Said Terry Francona of Pestano after the game: "I just think when he’s making a mistake he’s paying for it. I think he’s real tough on himself. That’s part of what makes him so good but it can also make you crazy. I really didn’t want to go get him but when it gets to be … I might have left in one hitter too long."

Even though Lee is here for the second time this season (he was the 26th man during Cleveland’s doubleheader in Oakland last Wednesday), it remains to be seen how long Francona might go with an eight-man bullpen with Michael Bourn on the verge of coming off the disabled list. Nyjer Morgan went 3 for 5 Tuesday night and is batting .389 in his six games so far with an on-base percentage of .520.