By Sheldon Ocker
Beacon Journal sports writer
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- Indians notebook: Terry Francona says change in rotation possible for series against Tigers
- News and notes around baseball — Aug. 4
- MLB roundup — Aug. 3
- Sheldon Ocker’s The Write Stuff
- Sheldon Ocker: Betting on Vinnie Pestano to return to form as likely as Indians improving through trade
- MLB notebook — Aug. 3
- Aeros 6, Curve 5: Giovanny Urshela homer in ninth lifts Aeros to win
- Indians: Matchups for upcoming games
MIAMI: When in Rome … you know the rest.
When in the National League, play National League baseball, at least the stereotypical version of National League baseball. So it was little ball and more little ball, as the Indians defeated the Miami Marlins 4-3 on Saturday night.
The home team was not ready to deal with the Tribe’s swiftness, a strategy that included six stolen bases, the most by a Cleveland club since Sept. 21, 2000, when they lost to the Boston Red Sox 9-8. Roberto Alomar led the way that day with three steals; Kenny Lofton, Travis Fryman and Dave Roberts had one apiece.
Saturday night, Michael Bourn stole three bases, Drew Stubbs two (and he didn’t enter the game until the seventh inning) and Mike Aviles stole one.
“It set up the first two runs in an almost identical way,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “Speed helped us in a lot of ways. It’s a good thing we did [run] and kept pushing.”
Chris Perez gave up a run in the ninth but got his 16th save, leaving runners on second and third.
Another of the Marlins’ phenoms faced the Tribe Saturday night. Jacob Turner came into the game with a lower ERA (2.65) than Jose Fernandez, who totally shut down the Indians Friday night, striking out 14 in eight innings.
Turner wasn’t that successful, but he allowed only two runs and six hits in six innings.
Thankfully for the Tribe, Bourn had his track shoes on. He was personally responsible for all of the Indians’ scoring against Turner, though Jason Kipnis drove in the first run after Bourn singled and stole second in the first inning.
In the third, Bourn beat out an infield hit, stole second again, took third on a wild pitch and kept going when Rob Brantly’s throw sailed into left field.
“I was just able to take advantage after getting good jumps,” Bourn said. “If I can get a good jump, I’m going to go. He gave me a couple of opportunities to get to the next base.”
With 16 steals for the season, Bourn looks like he will come up far short of his total of 42 last year. The explanation has been that pitchers are paying closer attention to him and speeding up their times to the plate.
“He’s been very intelligent on the bases, and he hasn’t run into many outs,” said Francona, who doesn’t want his players to force the issue.
Francona thought going into the game the Indians would have opportunities to run.
“We always know going into the game a pitcher’s times to the plate and his moves,” he said. “And the right guys have to get on base. But yeah, we thought we could run tonight.”
One minute Zach McAllister was pitching a no-hitter and the next the Marlins had scored twice to tie the score 2-2. It didn’t happen quite that quickly, but that’s the way it seemed.
McAllister was almost perfect for five innings, allowing only one base runner, Giancarlo Stanton, who walked with two outs in the fourth.
Until the fifth, Tribe outfielders couldn’t even say they helped keep the Marlins in check, but in that inning left fielder Michael Brantley caught two fly balls to get in on the action.
“I was able to locate my fastball the whole game,” McAllister said.
Then came the sixth. It didn’t take long for the no-hitter-in-progress to be forgotten, as Brantly led off with a single up the middle on a 2-and-0 fastball. McAllister retired the next batter on a pop fly to the infield, but Christian Yelich whacked a ringing double to left center to score Brantly, and Ed Lucas singled to score Yelich.
In the span of four batters, McAllister lost a no-hitter, a shutout, the lead and his job for the evening. Cody Allen relieved him and retired the side without another run scoring, despite giving up a hit and a walk.
McAllister said the first hit did not upset his concentration.
“Hits are part of the game like walks,” he said. “As a pitcher, you have to keep getting guys out.”
Speed on the bases was instrumental in the Tribe taking the lead back in the seventh inning. With Turner gone, Stubbs singled with one out and stole second. Bourn walked, and as if on cue, a double steal ensued to put runners on second and third.
Nick Swisher walked to load the bases, and Kipnis singled to score Stubbs and Bourn, who narrowly beat the throw home. The play was close enough to spark an argument between Marlins manager Mike Redmond and plate umpire Angel Hernandez and, as always, the umpire won.
Sheldon Ocker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Indians blog at http://www.ohio.com/indians. Follow him on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/SheldonOckerABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.