CLEVELAND - One month, one miserable month wiped out almost everything Manny Acta did for three years.
"That month just crushed our hopes," Acta said.
And cost him his second job as a major league manager.
Acta was fired Thursday by the Cleveland Indians, who collapsed from contention with a 5-24 record in August, the worst month in the franchise's 112-year history. Acta, hired in 2009 after two tough seasons in Washington, paid the steepest price for the Indians' stunning slide that dropped them to last place in the AL Central.
It certainly wasn't all Acta's fault, but he took the fall.
During the club's August meltdown, Acta tried everything he could to turn things around. He changed his starting lineup, called team meetings, altered routines - all to no avail. Once the Indians began to slip in the standings, there was nothing the 43-year-old Acta could do to stop them.
And with six games left in this disappointing season, the Indians, who are just 21-50 in the second half, decided to begin moving forward without Acta.
"I had a great three years here," he said on a conference call. "I have no regrets and no bitterness. I gave my best and that's all I can do."
Acta went 214-266 in nearly three seasons with the Indians, who were within 3 1/2 games of first on July 26 following a shocking comeback win at home over Detroit ace Justin Verlander. However, they lost the following day and would eventually lose 11 straight games.
A season that began with so much hope turned to despair.
"My job was to make us better," Acta said. "We didn't get better."
General manager Chris Antonetti announced Acta's firing on an off day before the Indians opened their final homestand against Kansas City and the Chicago White Sox. If there is any solace to Acta it's that his final two games were road wins over the second-place White Sox, who are chasing Detroit for the division title.
Acta felt he never lost his clubhouse and praised his players for continuing to play hard when the season unraveled.
Bench coach Sandy Alomar, a six-time All-Star catcher for the Indians and fan favorite, will replace Acta on an interim basis for the last six games of 2012. Antonetti called Alomar a "primary candidate" to possibly replace Acta as Cleveland's next manager but wouldn't label him the front-runner.
The 46-year-old Alomar has been considered for previous openings in Toronto, Boston and with the Chicago Cubs. He would seem to fit perfectly with what the Indians are looking for.