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Kipnis has 'hands-on' approach with walk-off HR

Indians second baseman thrives at plate after swing adjustment
@MandyBell02
June 25, 2019

CLEVELAND -- Over the past week, Jason Kipnis has proved it can be as simple as finding a small fix in a swing to flip on an offensive switch. Since he made an adjustment with his hands nine games ago, the 32-year-old has been red-hot and he did not slow

CLEVELAND -- Over the past week, Jason Kipnis has proved it can be as simple as finding a small fix in a swing to flip on an offensive switch. Since he made an adjustment with his hands nine games ago, the 32-year-old has been red-hot and he did not slow down on Monday night.

Kipnis capped a long night at Progressive Field with a homer in the 10th inning to give the Indians a 3-2 walk-off victory over the Royals. It was Kipnis’ third career walk-off homer and his sixth walk-off plate appearance. The series opener also featured a rain delay of 2 hours, 23 minutes in the bottom of the fourth.

“It's an awesome feeling,” Kipnis said. “It never gets old. Getting a hit never gets old. Hitting a home run never gets old. To do it all as a walk-off, it's a thrill, it's a rush, to look back at all your teammates running out to home plate. It really is one of the better rushes in the game.”

Box score

As Kipnis rounded third base, he saw Francisco Lindor running toward home plate to greet him with a Gatorade cooler. That’s when Kipnis decided to attempt a spin move to avoid the splash zone, as he ran into the dog pile waiting for him at the plate.

“Anyone else, I probably would have let it go,” Kipnis said. “But because it was Frankie, I decided to spin move him. Hit the B button on him.”

Since making that adjustment on Father’s Day in Detroit, Kipnis is hitting .471 with four homers, 14 RBIs and a 1.411 OPS in nine games. The homer against the Royals was part of a three-hit night for the Tribe’s second baseman, his sixth multi-hit performance in his last nine contests.

“Sometimes a guy will get the feel and it’s -- like with Kip, I think it’s his hands,” manager Terry Francona said. “Sometimes he feels like his hands are kind of like underwater. That’s not what he says. But he has such good hitter’s hands, and when he feels good, he gets pretty dangerous.”

Kipnis has been in the game long enough to know that he can lose the feel of his bat as quickly as he found it. But he’s trying to stick to a system that he’s created to try to ride this hot streak as long as he can.

“There are certain checkpoints that I kind of go [for] when I'm in the cage,” Kipnis said. “I have them written down, that it's something I want to feel whether it's a T-drill or a flip drill, I have different checkpoints I need to cross off before I get out of the cage. I get out of there, going out of the cage, feeling good. With the hands in the right position, it really does, everything kind of falls into line with my body, my weight balance and zone awareness I guess.”

The Royals struck first in the fourth inning, as Whit Merrifield homered to left-center field off Indians starter Adam Plutko just before the tarp was rolled onto the field. When play resumed, Jose Ramirez continued his hot streak by tying the game at 1 with an RBI double to left. In his last 11 games, Ramirez is hitting .326 with three doubles, two triples, one homer, nine RBIs and a .946 OPS.

“Josey looks like he’s starting to feel a little more like Jose,” Francona said.

“Guys who got off to slow starts, you knew they were going to start picking it up a little bit,” Kipnis said. “Especially if it all happens at the same time, kind of like it is right now with me and Jose a little bit. I thought [Roberto Perez] and Frankie kind of carried us earlier, and now our lineup is lengthening, it's getting tougher. We're creating runs in different ways and I think if you add that to the pitching that's always been there, and the bullpen, it's a good recipe for wins.”

Mandy Bell covers the Indians for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter at @MandyBell02.