DETROIT -- The Indians understand that they do not boast the kind of offense that can consistently get into a slugging match. Cleveland has needed to find other ways to produce runs and stolen bases have provided one solution.
Entering Thursday, the Tribe led the American League with 47 steals. Tampa Bay ranked second with 46. As for Cleveland's stolen base percentage, the Indians ranked fourth in the league with a 78-percent success rate.
"It's huge for us," center fielder Michael Brantley said. "We know that we're not going to have guys that are going to hit 40 or 50 home runs, so we have to manufacture runs. A big part of that is stealing bases, doing hit-and-runs.
"If you can get people into scoring position more often, the better chance you'll have of scoring runs."
Second baseman Jason Kipnis entered Thursday's game against the Tigers with a team-high 13 stolen bases. Brantley (nine) and Shin-Soo Choo (eight) were close behind. All in all, Cleveland had 12 different players with at least one steal and nine who had at least two stolen bases on the season.
Tribe manager Manny Acta believes having a full-time baserunning instructor -- a role filled by first-base coach Tom Widenbauer -- has helped.
"Over the last couple of years we've felt short-changed a little bit," Acta said, "because we didn't have a baserunning and outfield instructor full-time on our staff. I think this year, having Tom here from Spring Training working with these guys, has helped. It's not going to be everybody, but the guys who can do it like Brantley and Kipnis and Choo, they're doing it.
"Here and there, we'll sneak one of these big guys, if we have a good advance [report] on some pitcher. But, we didn't set out a goal as a team. It's just, 'Hey, if you can do it, you should be able to do it.' We've always stressed that it has to make sense for us. It's not about running like crazy. It's got to be a good percentage that's favorable for us."