Second Thoughts Game #40: Mariners 3, Indians 6
Kipnis' extra inning heroics propel Indians to walkoff series opening win
Ladies and gentlemen, something special is brewing in Cleveland. With each dramatic win, the Indians are giving fans more of a reason to believe. And it’s evident that fans are starting to believe as they turned out in droves at the ballpark Friday night to dine on some dollar dogs, enjoy some fireworks and take in another exciting Tribe victory in walkoff fashion.
Second baseman Jason Kipnis in the bottom of the 10th stepped up to the plate with runners at the corners and two outs and the lefty Lucas Luetge standing between him and an Indians victory. With the speedsters Drew Stubbs and Michael Bourn on base and Kipnis with some decent wheels himself, an infield squeeze bunt probably could’ve gotten the job done. Did Kipnis do that? Nope, instead he deposited a breaking ball from Luetge into the right field seats for a walkoff three-run home run.
Is It Time To Believe?
Skeptics and cynics can point to the last two seasons all they want. There is something different and real about the way this Indians team is playing. Yes, it’s only May and yes, the Tribe has become notorious for hot starts the last couple years, but I think it’s safe to say now those teams had a lot of luck on their side. There was a spark of talent from the young core establishing itself, but not enough to sustain throughout the long haul of the season.
Looking at this roster top to bottom, it’s hard to see how luck has played any significant role in the success of this ball club at the start of this season. There’s leadership, there’s youth, there’s seasoned talent starting to find its groove and there’s a grittiness or scrappiness as well as a resilience that emphasizes that win or lose, this team won’t go down without a fight.
Another reason to believe this team could be the real deal is it’s not one-dimensional. There’s no one facet of this team to which the Tribe needs to turn to in order to give them a chance to win games. They can beat you with their starting pitching, they can beat you with their offense, they can beat you with their bullpen or even in some cases beat you with their defense. They don’t have Clayton Kershaw in their rotation, Miguel Cabrera in their lineup, orCraig Kimbrel in their bullpen, but they still have talent in every area of play and will grind out nearly every game.
Jason Kipnis – Mr. May
It wasn’t all that long ago that many were contemplating the possibility of Kipnis being sent down to AAA Columbus to work out his offensive struggles, similar to what has happened to third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall this week.
Well, half way into May, Kipnis has been on a tear hitting .295 with six homers and 19 RBI’s (including Friday night’s walkoff homer). This is a vast improvement compared to the .200 AVG/1 HR/4 RBI mark the Tribe second baseman posted in April. Overall, Kipnis is now hitting .244 with seven homers and 23 RBI’s, so I think we can quit using the word ‘slump’ when talking about Jason Kipnis.
Four And Counting
A month ago, Cleveland fans had their pitchforks and torches ready and were on the verge of running the lanky right-hander out of town. Now it certainly appears Jimenez has turned a corner and is becoming more of a reliable starter and less of an enigmatic time bomb that could break down at any given moment. Now granted, he’s not out of the woods yet and has a lot to prove before he earns the respect of the majority of fans and analysts, but as long as he is serviceable and even reliable as a starter, the rotation is in better shape than they would be without him.
Jimenez turned in his fourth consecutive quality start on Friday night going five innings while only giving up two runs on seven hits with two walks and had nine strikeouts. While the right-hander didn’t get a decision in this game, his performance since his meltdown start against the Red Sox has been about as good as he’s ever been since donning a Cleveland uniform. In his last four starts, Jimenez is 3-0 with a 1.94 ERA in 23.2 innings with only five runs allowed, eight walks and 29 strikeouts.
Is he the All-Star and Cy Young contender from a few years back? No, but he’s pitching well and giving the Indians a chance to win. You can’t ask for much more.
Quote Of The Game
"There were no words coming out really when I was rounding and screaming. It was just kind of sounds, just gibberish and screams" – Jason Kipnis on rounding the bases after hitting the three-run walkoff homer.
Up Next: Mariners vs. Indians @ Progressive Field. 1:05pm ET first pitch.
The hottest team in baseball will be on the warpath once again as they look to stay ahead in the four-game set against the visiting Mariners. The Indians have not lost a series since April 18th when they were swept in three games by Boston. Since then, the Tribe has either won or split each series they’ve played.
The Tribe will send Zach McAllister to the hill to face off against veteran left-hander Joe Saunders. McAllister has been about as consistent a starter as anyone in baseball as he’ll enter the matchup at 3-3 with a 2.68 ERA. Saunders, on the other hand, has struggled to start the 2013 campaign going 3-4 with a 5.51 ERA. Seattle hopes to keep pace with the A’s and stay within striking distance of the AL West-leading Rangers while the Indians will look to stay tied with or move ahead of Detroit in the Central.
Jake Dungan is a communications student at Stark State College and an intern with the Akron RubberDucks. Follow him on Twitter @MajorLeagueJake.
They have switch hitters with power and on base ability (Santana, Swisher, Ascab)
Leadoff type hitters who can get on base (Brantley, Bourn, and in the case of Drew Stubbs even power)
They have a big right handed source of power (Mark Reynolds)
As well as a young player named Jason Kipnis who after looking like a blind man at the plate the first half on the season is turning into a complete player with OBP, power and speed.
Speed I think has been a major tool for this club, With Bourn, Kipnis, Brantley, Stubbs and Ascab that have 5 guys who can steal bases.
They have a nice vet power bat in Giambi who can put one in the seats or talk a walk. Hes going to give you a solid at bat.
Then they have two great utiltiy guys who can play all over (Raburn and Aviles)
If young sweet swning Lonnie Chisenhall can come around look out. We might have the best lineup in the AL,
Right now they have 3 solid starters in Masterson, McCalister and Ubaldo. They have a solid back of the rotation lefty in Kazmir and two solid 5th starters in Kluber and Meyers.
Then they have two guys who can be FOR starters in AAA ( Bauer and Carrasco).
They have a deep bullpen and solid leadership from Tito, Giambi, Swisher, Brantley, Santana, Perez, Pestano and Kipnis.
If the pitching holds. This could be special team.
I feel like Mike Aviles should get the majority of at bats while Chiz is getting his swing worked out. Or at least an even split between Giambi and Aviles. With Raburn getting starts here and there.
Go Tribe. Great win today.
Speed really helped in the 9th as Stubbs outran a pickoff throw to steal second and Bourn beat out an infield hit to set it up for Kipnis to wn it.
The M's have Saunders going today. He's either been very good or very bad in each of his starts so far. Hope we get the bad Saunders.
I'm so tired of Ibanez beating up on the Tribe. When is he going to retire?