August 3, 2013
The Indians this season have a multi-faceted club. They can hit home runs (they rank in the middle of the pack), but they at same time steal bases and take the extra base on a single or on a wild pitch. Tonight base running was the central offensive weapon used, and although normally it's difficult to win just on that alone, they pulled it off.
In the first inning, Michael Bourn got on board via a single, then stole second. That was something notable, for of late Bourn hadn't been stealing many bases. But tonight you wouldn't know it. Nick Swisher would ground out to the second baseman, but because Bourn had already stolen second, the Marlins couldn't turn a double play. So when Jason Kipnis lined a single into shallow right field*, putting the Indians on the board.
Bourn's speed was solely responsible for the second run of the night. He beat out a infield single to start the third, then stole second. Then he went to third on a wild pitch, and when Brantly's throw sailed over the third baseman's head, Bourn got up an trotted home. The only time the bat was involved was when Bourn put the ball in play.
Zach McAllister cruised through the first five innings, making the lineup that battered that Indians the night before look like a completely different group. He carried a no-hitter into the sixth, but quickly fell apart, allowing two runs. Zach would not stick around to finish the sixth inning. Cody Allen would perform cleanup duty, but it was tough sledding, as he'd load the bases before finally retiring Adeiny Hechavarria on a liner to Bourn. Even though the damage was kept to a minimum, the score was now tied heading into the final third of the game.
But speed would again work for the Indians. With one out in the seventh, Drew Stubbs (who had entered the game via a double switch) singled to left. Then Michael Bourn walked. When Nick Swisher got ahead of Dan Jennings, Terry Francona called for a double steal, and Stubbs/Bourn barely pulled it off. Stubbs got his foot into third base just a smidgen ahead of the tag. After Swisher walked, Jason Kipnis lined a single into center field. Stubbs scored easily, but Miami center fielder Jake Marisnic made a strong throw to home, and Bourn touch home plate just ahead of Brantly's tag. So in that inning there two extremely close plays, and if any other player on the club would have been involved, the call would have gone the other way.
It turned out that Bourn's slide was the deciding play of the game, for the Marlins scored a run off Chris Perez in the ninth. Logan Morrison opened the ninth with a double to the gap in left-center, and pinch-hitter Greg Dobbs drove him home with a single. Hechavarria then laid down a sacrifice bunt intended to get Dobbs to second, but Mike Aviles for some reason looked at second first, then didn't have to time to make the throw to first. Another sacrifice moved the runners to second and third, and now the Marlins could not only tie the game with a base hit, but possibly win it. But Perez got out it. First Rob Brantly had a grounder right at Nick Swisher, who held the runner at third while recording the second out of the inning. And then old foe Placido Polanco hit a line drive that Bourn ran down in center field. So speed helped the Indians take the lead, regain it, and finally hold it.
*I've watched just two complete games in Miami, but already I'm struck with how big the Marlins Park outfield is. There is no way you could get away with a Josh Willingham (for example) in even left field.
Roll Call (31 Commenters)
|Mr. Bad Example
|Marquess of Rockingham
|Daniel Van Meter