CLEVELAND -- Tribe second baseman Jason Kipnis let out an emphatic roar as he stood up past home plate. His fellow middle infielder Francisco Lindor was the first to greet him with a congratulatory high-five.In Tuesday's 6-0 series-clinching win over the Rays, Kipnis achieved a rare feat to bring in
CLEVELAND -- Tribe second baseman Jason Kipnis let out an emphatic roar as he stood up past home plate. His fellow middle infielder Francisco Lindor was the first to greet him with a congratulatory high-five.
In Tuesday's 6-0 series-clinching win over the Rays, Kipnis achieved a rare feat to bring in the first pair of runs for the Indians. In the third inning, he lifted a single into center when Desmond Jennings misplayed a hop. Kipnis wasted no time and began going full speed ahead and wound up scoring on a three-base error.
"It was kind of the perfect storm," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "It's like icing in hockey: Nobody is there. The ball is ahead of everybody. That was a weird hop. I thought they could have given him a home run because it was such a weird hop."
Per Statcast™, Kipnis traveled the bases in 15.2 seconds. It was the fastest recorded home-to-home time this season.
"You're already thinking about taking a wide turn for maybe drawing the throw, just to make sure the run scores," Kipnis said. "But once it got by him, you know you're getting to third easy, and from that point, you're just picking up the third-base coach to see if you're stopping or going."
It was not the first time Kipnis had tried to go home to home in his career. His last attempt came on June 24, 2014, against the D-backs on the road. Tied at 8 in the 13th, Kipnis smacked a single off the center-field wall. The ball hit Ender Inciarte in the back of the head and rolled toward left field.
On Tuesday, Kipnis was thrown out sliding headfirst to home and was not able to score the winning run. That was the biggest difference, according to Kipnis.
"That's when I wore younger man's shoes," Kipnis said. "I was trying to end the game. I was trying to play here, trying to get out of there. This one was just fun. We already got the run in, the job was done, and I'm convinced that took a really bad hop and that's a home run. That's not an error."
This time around, his attempt did not determine the outcome of the game. But it's also a testament to how well this team runs the bases.
Entering Wednesday's series finale against the Rays, Cleveland ranked atop the leaderboards in baserunning with an 11 score according to FanGraphs. Only the Cubs (10.1) also have a mark in double digits.
A major key in the high mark is the success rate on base thefts. The Indians have recorded 56 stolen bases this season, which ranks second in the American League and third in the Majors. In Monday's three-run win in the series opener, the Tribe recorded three steals. After the game, Lindor credited Francona for the team's success on the basepaths.
"That's why Tito is one of the best, because he lets us do our thing," Lindor said on Monday. "It doesn't matter who is pitching and who is hitting because the ultimate goal as a runner is scoring."
Shane Jackson is a reporter for MLB.com based in Cleveland.