The last thing a contending team such as Cleveland wants to do down the stretch is play uninspired baseball against clubs playing only for next year.
But if Tribe fans looked at the Marlins' abysmal record and scoffed at the possibility of anything less than a three-game sweep in Miami this weekend, the Marlins' 10-0 victory in Friday's series opener -- which snapped a season-high eight-game winning streak for the Indians -- put that notion to rest quickly.
A pair of right-handers in Cleveland's Zach McAllister and the Marlins' Jacob Turner will meet Saturday night in the second game of the series. While McAllister is hoping to help pitch his club into the postseason, Turner and his teammates will continue their efforts to get in the way.
"It's all about going out there," Miami catcher Jeff Mathis said, "and playing the game the way you know you should be playing it and doing the little things that we need to do to win. It doesn't matter who's in town. We're trying to win a ballgame, and that's the mindset."
Though the Indians (60-49) have won much more than Miami (43-65) this season, the teams' respective records since May 31 aren't all that different. In 54 games, the Marlins are 30-24. Cleveland, meanwhile, is 31-24 across 55 contests.
And when the National League brand of baseball that must be played this weekend is taken into consideration, it would seem there's plenty the Indians should worry about before Detroit comes to town next week.
"Zach thinks he can [hit]," Tribe manager Terry Francona said Friday. "Maybe that's good, because I don't know if he can bunt. He might be a better hitter than a bunter."
Indians: Francona not fretting about absent DH
• If McAllister can hit, that's all the better for Cleveland. In two career plate appearances, though, he's 0-for-2 with a strikeout, so maybe Francona shouldn't bet on it.
Regardless, the skipper isn't very concerned about his inability to trot out a designated hitter in Miami, mainly because spurts of Interleague Play don't last as long now as they used to, an effect of Houston switching to the American League before the 2013 season.
"For three days, it's not the end of the world," Francona said. "They used to have the schedule where you played sometimes nine in a row, a 10-day trip.
"Now, you're here three games, and we're not really tied into a DH anyways. We're probably fortunate in a lot of regards."
• McAllister (4-6, 3.48 ERA) has made two starts since June 2, as a right middle finger sprain kept him on the disabled list for about seven weeks. In Seattle on July 23, McAllister was charged with eight hits and four runs (three earned) over five innings of a loss. On Monday, he held the White Sox to five hits and two runs in a no-decision.
Marlins: No sign of surrender in Redmond's club
• Friday's game against Cleveland was the first of 12 straight games the Marlins will play against teams above .500. After the Indians leave town on Sunday, Miami is scheduled to play nine road games in nine days, with stops in Pittsburgh, Atlanta and Kansas City.
The Marlins' young roster stands to benefit from the experience of playing against such competition, and a strong showing can build confidence for 2014. Their series-opening win over the Indians was a good start.
"These guys are good," Miami manager Mike Redmond said. "Every game's huge for them right now. They're trying to make the playoffs. It'll be a big task for us this whole week. We go to Pittsburgh and Atlanta, so it doesn't get any easier for the Fish.
"Every time you get to see the best teams in the American League, or any division right now, that's good for our guys to see the best. Hopefully we'll step up and give them a good run."
• Turner (3-3, 2.65 ERA) enters Saturday's outing with three quality starts in his last four trips to the mound. Command wasn't Turner's strong suit against the Mets on Monday, but despite five hits and three walks, he kept much of the traffic at bay while holding New York to three runs in 6 1/3 innings. He also had four strikeouts.
• After the Tigers beat the White Sox on Friday, the Indians fell to three games back in the AL Central.
• The Marlins' all-time record against the Indians is 9-4. At home, they're 5-2 against the Tribe.
Mark Emery is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.