Francona wants Indians to stay in running

Francona wants Indians to stay in running

Francona wants Indians to stay in running

KANSAS CITY -- Given the speed within their lineup, the Indians know that the stolen bases will continue to pile up as the season moves deeper into the summer.

Indians manager Terry Francona is more concerned with Cleveland's success rate when attempting to steal and how well his club runs from first to third base on singles. To this point, the Indians have excelled in both of those areas.

"That's what we care about more," Francona said.

Entering Thursday's game against the Royals, Cleveland had advanced from first base to third base (or home) on a base hit a Major League-leading 61 times this season. The Rockies and Cardinals ranked second with 55 such sprints apiece, and the Angels (54) ranked second to the Indians in the American League.

Told that his team led the Majors in that category, Francona nodded.

"It feels like we do and I'm glad that's the case," Francona said. "That's a good way to play, especially with all the left-handed hitters we have. First and third is way better than first and second."

The Tribe headed into Thursday's action ranked second in the American League with 64 stolen bases and the team's 80-percent success rate was fourth in the league. Speedsters Michael Bourn and Drew Stubbs have not stolen as many bases in the first half as expected, but Francona said pitchers have paid close attention to them.

As a result, pitchers have gone with slide steps more often, which sometimes leads to elevated pitches to hitters such as Asdrubal Cabrera or Jason Kipnis.

"I'll take the trade-off," Francona said. "If a pitcher wants to slide step every pitch, Kip or Cabrera is going to get one of those flattened out fastballs or hanging breaking balls and do some damage."

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.