Kipnis sets ballpark hit streak record at 28
Indians second baseman owns Progressive Field mark, extends current streak to 19
CLEVELAND -- Jason Kipnis has been a consistent force at the top of the Indians' lineup for the past two months. One of his frustrations at times has been that his personal success has not overcome Cleveland's overall offensive ups and downs.
That was not the case on Wednesday afternoon.
In an 8-2 victory over the rival Tigers, Kipnis ignited a three-run rally in the third inning with a one-out single to center field. With that hit, the Cleveland second baseman established a Progressive Field record with a 28-game hitting streak at the ballpark, giving him the second-longest home hitting streak in the history of the Indians.
"He's hitting the ball very well. He's been a force for a while," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "He's one of the better players in the game and he continues to show it every game. That's what the premier players do."
Kipnis' base hit up the middle off right-hander Buck Farmer surpassed the 27-game streak that Texas' Elvis Andrus had at Progressive Field between the 2009-15 seasons. The previous record at Progressive Field (since 1994) for an Indians batter was a 19-game streak by Michael Brantley last year.
Overall, Kipnis has a 19-game hitting streak, which is a career high and tied for the longest streak in the Major League this season. The 28-game home streak is the second-longest known streak in franchise history, trailing only the 31-game run that Hal Trosky had for the Indians in 1936.
Following Kipnis' single, the Indians churned out four more hits in a row -- culminated by a two-run double from Carlos Santana. The Tribe took a 3-0 lead and did not look back, winning after dropping the first two games of the series. That included a 7-3 loss on Tuesday, when Kipnis went 4-for-5 but struggled to enjoy his success after the game.
"You want the hits to mean something," Kipnis said on Tuesday. "You want it to spark rallies. You want it to ignite an offense, to be that spark at the top of the lineup.
"Guys are trying. We're getting some hits. We're getting on base. We're just not cashing in at all right now. Hopefully, some things start to fall."
Things fell in place less than 24 hours after Kipnis made those comments.
With his latest performance, Kipnis remains atop the American League leaderboard with a .354 batting average. Through 70 games, the second baseman leads the AL in WAR (4.6, according to Fangraphs.com), and has compiled five homers, 31 RBIs, 33 extra-base hits, 49 runs scored, 99 hits and nearly as many walks (35) as strikeouts (42).
Kipnis' 99 hits through Cleveland's first 71 games are the most by an Indians hitter since Carlos Baerga had 101 hits through the Tribe's first 71 contests in the 1995 season.
Kipnis took home the AL Player of the Month honors for May after posting a .429 average with 30 runs and 51 hits last month, and he has turned in a .392/.483/.500 slash line through 20 games in June.
"[It's] consistency," Kipnis said Tuesday night. "Same things I was doing in May, I'm doing now in June. I'd be stupid to not try to keep it the same way each day as I did in May. I told you early on, I thought it was more of figuring it out than a hot stretch that I was [having] in May. I felt more comfortable at the plate, like I had found something."
Francona liked hearing that from Kipnis.
"I'm glad he feels that way, and he looks that way to me," Francona said. "I don't know if he'll stay at this clip the whole way. Who knows? He doesn't look lucky to me. He's hitting balls. He's using the whole field. He's got a lot of ways to get hits."