DETROIT -- Indians players crowded around a television inside a lounge located within the visitors' clubhouse at Comerica Park on Wednesday afternoon. Even more spilled into the hallway, peering into the room through an open door.
Their eyes were fixed on the Blue Jays' game against the White Sox and their cheers were reserved for Toronto. When the Blue Jays pulled off a win in their season finale against Chicago, Cleveland's players erupted in cheers.
Cleveland will end the 2011 season in sole possession of second place.
"I heard them," Indians manager Manny Acta said with a grin. "I heard all the oohs and ahhs and all the celebration. It's gratifying in a way. We were disappointed that we didn't make the playoffs, but we shifted gears and placed importance on finishing second."
Receiving bonus money in the form of postseason shares for placing second does not hurt, either.
Following Toronto's win, the players cheered and shouted as they headed down the hall and back to the visiting clubhouse. Inside, someone turned on a stereo and a stream of songs with money-related lyrics began blasting throughout the room.
"We call it 'Pride plus 10,'" said Acta, referring to playing for pride, but also roughly $10,000 per player. "I'm glad we got it."
Asdrubal sets an example in season finale
DETROIT -- Indians manager Manny Acta planned on giving shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera a well-deserved day off for the final game of the season. That was until Cabrera walked into the manager's office on Wednesday afternoon.
"He came in and said he wanted to play," Acta said. "I was trying to rest him and play the kids, but he wants to play. He wants to be out there for the final game to set an example for the kids."
Cabrera certainly had nothing left to prove.
Entering Wednesday's season finale against the Tigers, Cabrera was hitting .274 with 25 home runs, 32 doubles and 92 RBIs through 150 games for Cleveland this year. He started for the American League All-Star team and set records for homers in one year by an Indians shortstop an by a shortstop from Venezuela.
Cabrera has shied away from talking about his personal accomplishments throughout his impressive season.
He smiled when asked once again about his year.
"With my personality, I'm feeling really good," Cabrera said. "I'm really happy for my numbers. Right now, I'm more happy because we finished the season in second place. We enjoyed that moment. That's all."
Cabrera has arguably been the Tribe's most valuable player this season and not only because of his offensive statistics. The shortstop also played through a variety of minor health issues, but felt it was important to remain in the lineup as much as possible.
Cleveland was forced to deal with a wave of injuries that took a toll on its offense, losing Grady Sizemore, Shin-Soo Choo and Travis Hafner, among others, for extended stretches at various points. Cabrera knew he had to help pick up the slack in light of the persistent injury issues.
"I'm most proud of staying on the field," Cabrera said.
Cabrera was also proud of how the Indians played this season season, despite the many problems that came up over the past six months.
"We did a good job this year," Cabrera said. "Everybody on this team worked hard. We played hard every day and worked together. We're really happy to be where we are right now."
And Cabrera was happiest on the field on Wednesday.
"I felt like I wanted to finish my season on the field," he said.
Acta ejected in first inning of finale
DETROIT -- Indians manager Manny Acta was ejected from Wednesday's 5-4 loss to Tigers at the conclusion of the top of the first inning. Conspiracy theorists might believe he planned the early exit.
Cleveland announced earlier on Wednesday that Tim Tolman, who was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease two springs ago, is stepping down as the team's bench coach at the end of the season. Acta's ejection put his long-time friend in charge in the dugout for his final game on the Indians' bench.
Acta insisted that he was not intentionally trying to be thrown out. The manager went on to say that he was still the one calling the shots throughout Wednesday's season finale.
"I would never make a mockery out of a baseball game," Acta said. "If I wanted Tolman to manage a game, I didn't have to get thrown out of the game. I would've just handed the lineup card to him and let him manage the game. He didn't manage the game. I managed the game from the tunnel.
"All I did was sit in the penalty box, that's it. I was just right underneath over there, watching the game from the batting cages and managing the ballgame. I know that a lot of people thought [I did it on purpose]. I was asked already during the game by some of my players. That wasn't the plan."
It was the second time this year that Acta was tossed from a game. He has six career ejections.
In the top of the first inning, shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera struck out swinging against Tigers pitcher Rick Porcello to end the frame. Immediately after the out, home-plate umpire Dan Bellino looked over at the Indians' dugout and motioned for Acta to leave the game.
After a brief argument near home plate, Acta left the field and retreated to the clubhouse.
"I was arguing a low pitch to Cabrera," Acta explained. "[Bellino] was looking into the dugout and I just said I was the one who said it. It just escalated from there and he threw me out of the game."
Acta was still not entirely clear on why exactly he was ejected, though.
"I don't know, lack of feel?" Acta said. "Tough guy from the new wave probably trying to make a name for himself. From what I've been hearing from my fellow managers, he's doing a pretty good job of it. That's all."
Tolman, 55, has served as a coach under Acta during the manager's time at the helm for both the Nationals and Indians. Tolman also was Acta's manager during their days in the Astros' Minor League system. Following this season, Tolman will transition into a role in Cleveland's baseball operations department.
Quote to note
"We've improved in many areas, almost all areas. Just the idea of how to play and how to win was the important step that we took this year. The next step is maintaining that once we get off to a good start and avoiding the bad streaks. I think that's the key."
-- Tim Tolman, who is stepping down as the Indians' bench coach
Carlos Santana has put up numbers this season unlike any Indians catcher in franchise history. Santana entered Wednesday with 27 homers, 35 doubles, 79 RBIs and 84 runs scored. In Cleveland's 111-year history, no other player whose primary position was catcher has managed a season with at least 25 homers, 35 doubles, 75 RBIs and 80 runs.
Entering Wednesday, the Indians' offense had struck out 1,261 times this season, marking the fifth-highest single-season total in American League history. This year's Seattle club (1,268) was one slot higher on the league's all-time list. Tampa Bay (1,324 in 2007; 1,292 in 2010) and Detroit (1,268 in 1996) filled the top three spots.
The Indians entered Wednesday's finale one win shy of finishing 81-81 on the season. Cleveland has ended with exactly a .500 record only three times previously in team history (2008, 1966 and 1916). The Tribe's second-place finish marked the team's first time ending in that spot in the division since 2005.