CLEVELAND -- The Indians are trying not to worry too much about the crowded field at the top of the American League Central or in the Wild Card race. All they need to be concerned with is the deficit in the standings.
"To me it's the amount of games," manager Manny Acta said. "I mean, we're four games out. That's the way we look at it whether there's two or five in front of us."
Entering Thursday's tilt against Detroit, Cleveland sat four games behind the first-place Tigers and White Sox in the division. The Tribe was also four games out in the Wild Card pack, which includes nine teams in position to make the postseason or within five games of one of the two available spots.
The path to the playoffs might not be ideal, but Acta reminds that it is not impossible.
"We still have two months of baseball to play," he said. "We're going to play [the Tigers and White Sox], and they're going to play each other, too. We just have to try to take care of ourselves and win some games. We consider ourselves fortunate to be just four games out while playing .500 baseball at the end of July."
With the non-waiver Trade Deadline looming on Tuesday, the next few games could play a role in how the Indians approach trade talks. They have a handful of needs, but they still feel that any success they have will mostly rest on the team currently in place.
"We continue to feel we have a very talented roster that's capable of competing within our division," general manager Chris Antonetti said. "But, as we've said for a number of weeks, I think the most important thing for us is for us to play to our ability, and for the guys that are already here to do that.
"Now, we'll continue to look for ways to add to it, and to supplement that group, but no one or two players that come in externally -- whether that's now or whether that's in the offseason -- is going to dictate our success. It's going to be about the guys that are here."
Cleveland's pitching woes go beyond Lowe
CLEVELAND -- Derek Lowe has served as the most recent symbol of the Indians' rotation problems this season, but manager Manny Acta wanted to make something clear on Thursday afternoon: Cleveland's troubles on the hill extend beyond just Lowe.
"It's not just one guy. It's a team," Acta said. "We win and lose as a team. Our starting pitching has been inconsistent, for the most part. It'd be unfair just to point out one guy."
Heading into Thursday's game against the Tigers, Indians starters had combined for a 4.70 ERA and 229 walks, which ranked 11th and 14th, respectively, in the American League. Justin Masterson and Ubaldo Jimenez have gone through hot and cold spells, Lowe has labored through an extended slump and Josh Tomlin has struggled in spurts as well.
Through 98 games last year, the rotation had a 4.32 ERA with a 1.31 WHIP (walks plus hits per innings pitched). The WHIP has spiked to 1.46 this season due to an increase in walks.
As things stand, each starter from the Opening Day staff has a record below .500, and two (Jimenez and Masterson) are in the league's top five for most walks issued.
Lowe has been on a steady decline since late May, going 2-8 with a 7.59 ERA in his past 12 starts following an eight-outing run out of the gates in which he went 6-1 with a 2.05 ERA.
Acta was asked if Lowe's age (39) is becoming a factor as the season wears on.
"Well, we're humans," Acta said. "Obviously, the older we get, we're not as effective as we were at 27 or 28. He's got the stuff. He was  in the first two months of the season when he was carrying this team. It's about making some adjustments and probably being more consistent in the strike zone."
One pleasant surprise, though, has been rookie right-hander Zach McAllister, who headed into Thursday's start -- in which he was pitted against Detroit ace Justin Verlander -- with a 4-2 record and a 3.21 ERA.
"He's been a bright spot in our rotation," Acta said. "We're happy. This is a guy we look forward to seeing every five days. He continues to grow as a pitcher up here at this level. He's not a finished product by any means, but he attacks the zone."
Players Association files grievance for Hagadone
CLEVELAND -- The situation could take months to resolve, but the Major League Baseball Players Association has officially filed a grievance over the Indians' handling this month of injured reliever Nick Hagadone.
Hagadone's case, which stems from him being placed on the Minor League disqualified list rather than the Major League disabled list, will be handled between the MLBPA and MLB.
Indians general manager Chris Antonetti had no comment on Thursday.
Following his most recent outing, on July 6 against the Rays, the lefty sustained what Antonetti described at the time as a "self-inflicted" injury to his pitching hand. After being pulled from the game, in which he allowed two runs in two-thirds of an inning, Hagadone reacted with anger, slamming a door and injuring himself in the process.
Earlier this month, Hagadone underwent surgery to repair his fractured left radius, which is in the forearm area below the wrist. A screw was inserted; he could be sidelined for the remainder of the season.
"We're certainly disappointed with the reaction to it," Antonetti said on July 8. "He was certainly very frustrated coming out of the game. We certainly would have wished he would have handled it a little differently."
Hagadone, 26, was optioned to Triple-A following that outing and placed on the disqualified list two days later. A player is ineligible for pay for the days spent on the disqualified list, whereas a player on the Major League DL still receives compensation.
Hagadone posted a 16.43 ERA over his last 10 appearances after having a 2.04 ERA in his first 17 outings.
Quote to note
"It's no secret. It doesn't matter who we bring or who we don't bring. If [Carlos] Santana and [Travis] Hafner in the middle of our lineup don't hit up to their capabilities, we're going to have some issues." -- manager Manny Acta
Manager Manny Acta said that lefty reliever Rafael Perez (on the 60-day disabled list with a strained left lat) is scheduled to resume his Minor League rehab following a day of rest on Thursday. Cleveland has yet to decide whether Perez's next step will be back-to-back appearances or entering in the middle of an inning. Both approaches are aimed at simulating situations Perez will face once he is activated.
According to STATS LLC, rookie right-hander Cody Allen is only the sixth player in the history of the First-Year Player Draft (1965-2012) to be selected in the 20th round (or later) and make his Major League debut no later than the following year. The others are Mike Marshall (debuted with Tigers in 1967), Dusty Baker (Braves, 1968), Carl Willis (Tigers, 1984), Deion Sanders (Yankees, 1988) and Gerald Alexander (Rangers, 1990).
Through 98 games the offense had 90 home runs and 425 runs scored. Cleveland had identical showings in each category through 98 games in 2011. The Tribe has, on the other hand, more walks (up to 353 from 311) and fewer strikeouts (down to 628 from 733) compared with last season.