DETROIT -- After the baseball dropped into Comerica Park's stands, and following a trip around the bases that Jason Kipnis described as therapeutic, the Indians' second baseman crossed home and waved at a group of people in the seats behind the plate on Friday night.It was a greeting for a
DETROIT -- After the baseball dropped into Comerica Park's stands, and following a trip around the bases that Jason Kipnis described as therapeutic, the Indians' second baseman crossed home and waved at a group of people in the seats behind the plate on Friday night.
It was a greeting for a band of hecklers that had been wearing him out in the moments leading up to his go-ahead, three-run home run in the ninth inning.
"There are a lot of people who feel the need to remind me how my season's going," Kipnis said after the Tribe's 4-1 victory over the Tigers. "Like I don't already know. It was good to actually get one on my side."
Kipnis has not only heard it on the road -- his numbers are there for all to see, illuminated on every scoreboard -- but the second baseman has also dealt with critics in Cleveland. On Friday, he did some silencing with a powerful swing that backed a stellar start by Trevor Bauer and gave the Tribe its ninth win in 12 games.
The blast snapped a 1-1 deadlock and helped Bauer find the win column after eight innings, during which he piled up 12 strikeouts and held the Tigers to a 2-for-12 showing with runners on base. The home run also improved Kipnis' slash line to .290/.347/.478 over his past 18 games. Prior to that, he sported a .171/.259/.250 line on the season.
"I'm happy for him," said Bauer, who is 5-4 with a 2.62 ERA on the year. "Some of the balls that he's barreling that weren't falling early in the year are starting to fall. Shoot, early in the year, that's a long flyout and the guy probably climbs the wall and catches it or something. I'm pumped for him, that he's having some more success. It's got to be good for his mental state."
In the ninth, Jose Ramirez drew a one-out walk against Shane Greene and then bolted for third -- with the thought of scoring -- when Yonder Alonso sent a pitch into the right-center gap for a two-out single. Ramirez overran third, drawing a throw to the plate and allowing Alonso to advance to second on the play. Kipnis allowed them to jog home when he sent Greene's 1-0 slider into the seats.
"I've put a lot of pressure on myself," Kipnis said. "I'm in the on-deck circle and I'm mentally trying to prepare myself for the last at-bat and I'm saying, 'Hey, whatever's happened so far this game, forget it. Meet the challenge head-on.' The results paid dividends right there."
The Tigers opened the bottom of the first inning with back-to-back doubles from Leonys Martin and Nicholas Castellanos against Bauer, grabbing a swift 1-0 lead. The right-hander retired the next three hitters in order and continued to hold Detroit's lineup in check from there, trading zeros for much of the night with Tigers righty Michael Fulmer.
The Indians' lone breakthrough against Fulmer arrived in the fourth with two outs. Edwin Encarnacion got things started with a single to right field and then hustled home on a double to the wall in right-center field by Alonso. Fulmer then held the Tribe to a 2-for-11 showing over the remainder of his seven-inning outing.
Even with 113 pitches in the books, Bauer wanted the ball for the ninth, but Kipnis' shot created a save situation for closer Cody Allen. The reliever put the final touches on the win, and Kipnis was thrilled to see Bauer's outing pay off.
"That was big," Kipnis said. "We knew he was there, probably pacing back and forth in the dugout [in the ninth]. It was a good pitching matchup tonight with him and Fulmer, two good guys. [Bauer] has been on his game lately and when a guy goes out like that and wants the ball back out there for the eighth inning, you could tell he was in it and he wanted it. I'm really happy to get him the 'W' tonight."
MOMENT THAT MATTERED
Bauer outage: The Tigers had the makings of a rally in the sixth inning, when Jose Cabrera led off with a single and went first-to-third on a one-out single to right from Victor Martinez. Bauer then worked to a full count on Niko Goodrum, who swung through a cutter for a strikeout. The Tribe starter than induced a flyout to left off the bat of James McCann, preserving the 1-1 deadlock with the Tigers.
"Man, he dug in and pitched his rear-end off," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "It's a good feeling, because he's going to compete, and he's durable."
THEY SAID IT
"I'm slowly coming out of it, but little swings like that definitely help the process and get your head up and pick your chin up a little bit and take a little weight off the shoulders. It's been tough so far. I'm happy to keep plugging away, and I think this team needs me to keep plugging away. Hopefully, I can keep doing more things like that and help win." -- Kipnis
"Definitely, if I can lead the league in that every year, I think that'd be pretty cool." -- Bauer, who leads the Majors with 109.3 pitches per start
Bauer has registered at least 10 strikeouts in three consecutive starts, making him only the sixth pitcher in team history to achieve that feat, per the Indians. The others on that short list include Sam McDowell (five times), Corey Kluber (three times), Bob Feller (twice), Carsten Sabathia and Chuck Finley.
Right-hander Mike Clevinger (4-2, 3.36 ERA) is scheduled to take the mound for the Indians on Saturday, when the Tigers host the Tribe in a 4:10 p.m. ET clash at Comerica Park. In his career, Clevinger has gone 4-1 with a 2.28 ERA in six appearances (five starts) against Detroit. The Tigers will counter with Mike Fiers (5-3, 4.33).
Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and listen to his podcast.