CLEVELAND -- Quintin Berry has never been caught stealing in his brief Major League career, 19-for-19 in stolen bases. On Saturday, he tried and failed to get thrown out on purpose. Then he tried again.
It took another half-inning and a Tigers run taken off the scoreboard to figure out why.
"I've gotta do whatever I've gotta do for the team," Berry said. "I just wonder what everybody was thinking at home, watching on TV. I know everybody's like, 'Man, he just thinks he's invisible out there. He's going to try to run on anything.' "
On a day when the Indians struggled for 6 2/3 innings to get a hit off of Anibal Sanchez, they actually got a run back from the Tigers after Alex Avila missed third base on his way to scoring what would have been Detroit's fifth run, thus turning an apparent 5-0 Tigers lead back into a 4-0 game.
The Tigers wound up winning the game, 5-3.
Avila raced home from second on an Asdrubal Cabrera error with two out in the fifth inning when Berry hit a sharp grounder to short. Cabrera fielded it in the hole and tried to throw out Avila at third. However, third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall wasn't near the bag, leaving him to watch the ball sail by toward the Indians dugout.
Avila slid on the outside of the bag, around a charging Chisenhall, and took off for home, crossing the plate without a throw. At that point, the Indians made a pitching change, which was critical.
"I thought I slid right into it," Avila said. "As soon as I slid and popped up, I went home and I wasn't even thinking about it. It's one of those things where when you're running, I don't think about the bag. I just know where it is, so I'm not looking for it. And when I slid, I was trying to get out of Chisenhall's way because I looked back and saw him."
Replay, however, shows Avila either just hitting outside of the bag or popping up out of his slide too early before turning for home. Third-base umpire Wally Bell clearly decided the latter.
So, too, did somebody in the Indians clubhouse who saw a replay, apparently checking why Chisenhall was late to third base.
"We didn't see it right off the bat," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "Some guys kind of saw it from the dugout. One of our coaches went down to watch the video about Lonnie's situation at third base. We found out through that.
"The pitching change kind of helped and gave us time to appeal the play."
Before they knew to appeal, the Indians had pulled starter Justin Masterson in favor of lefty reliever Tony Sipp to face Omar Infante. There was enough buzz in the Indians dugout that Tigers third-base coach Gene Lamont caught on to what was happening.
"We really weren't aware of anything until they came down," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "Someone must have seen the replay and they came down to yell at them to appeal."
That's where Berry, who advanced to second on Cabrera's error, entered the plot.
"So Gene, knowing that they probably saw it on the replay, told Berry to take off," Leyland said, "because if they make a play on Berry, then they can't make the appeal."
According to rule 7.10, "any appeal ... must be made before the next pitch, or any attempted play."
By that rule, even if Sipp had whirled to look at Berry and made a play toward him, then the Indians would have lost their chance to appeal.
The rule also states that "if the defense team errs on its first appeal, a request for a second appeal on the same runner at the same base shall not be allowed by the umpire."
In other words, had Berry rushed Sipp into a bad throw to third, wide of the base, they would have lost their chance to appeal.
Simply put, Berry didn't have to cause an out. All he had to do was cause a reaction.
"Once [Lamont] explained it to me, I knew," Berry said. "It was smart. I talked to him during the pitching change."
Berry took off before play had officially resumed. Chisenhall tagged out Berry on the first try, but it didn't count because umpires had not ruled that play had resumed. Once Sipp got the ball back and play resumed, Berry took off again, trying to get thrown out.
Chisenhall was standing on the bag when he took Sipp's throw, officially retiring Avila. He tagged Berry anyway, but the inning was over.
"Very strange play," Berry said. "Even the umpires didn't know what was going on right away. And then one of the umpires came over and was like, 'Man, that was a pretty smart play, trying to do that.' Because if they make an attempt at me, they can't appeal it, and we keep the run."
The initial ruling from the official scorer was that Berry was caught stealing, thus taking a 5-0 lead into the bottom of the fifth inning. Umpires called up to the press box after the next half-inning to make sure the ruling was understood.
The resulting change, however, was anything but clear. Sanchez retired the Indians in order in the bottom of the fifth, and the score on the board was still 5-0. Once the Tigers came to bat for the sixth, their lead was adjusted.
For a brief moment, the board read 10-0, drawing a cheer from a few Tigers fans, before going back to 4-0.
"I was hoping, but that was wishful thinking," Leyland said. "I only went to high school, but I knew we didn't have 10."
Cabrera's error stood. Berry, however, had his caught stealing removed, keeping him perfect.
"I had a feeling on Twitter it was going crazy," Berry said.