CLEVELAND -- One run was all it took. And then two of Jason Kipnis' teammates led the mob that swarmed and tackled the Indians' second baseman in shallow right field, where he did all he could to stop them from forcing him to the ground."It probably wasn't my best idea
CLEVELAND -- One run was all it took. And then two of Jason Kipnis' teammates led the mob that swarmed and tackled the Indians' second baseman in shallow right field, where he did all he could to stop them from forcing him to the ground.
"It probably wasn't my best idea to keep screaming, 'You guys can't bring me down,'" Kipnis said with a laugh after the Indians' 1-0 win over the Twins in 10 innings on Monday night.
Cleveland has not been hitting the ball very hard of late, but Kipnis sure took a pounding after finally being pushed to the grass. Following his game-winning single to left off Minnesota reliever Brandon Kintzler, Kipnis rounded first and began backpedaling as teammates Mike Napoli and Tyler Naquin sprinted at him from the dugout.
Kipnis threw his helmet at their feet, but after they got their hands on him, the second baseman was soon engulfed in a celebratory mob. Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez dragged Kipnis down. Water bottles were emptied. Jabs to the side ensued. It was a scene that was surely captured, and will soon be printed, to post on a wall inside the clubhouse.
After a tough seven-game road trip, the Indians needed a moment like this. The offensive issues that plagued the Tribe's bats in Oakland and Texas lingered into Monday's game at Progressive Field, but stellar pitching from Trevor Bauer and the bullpen made the slimmest margin the only margin that mattered.
Cleveland has scored one or no runs in seven of its past eight games. Twice now in that span, the club has pulled off a 1-0 win.
"We talk about it all the time: You want to be one run better," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "That would be that, and no more."
Cleveland's push in the 10th inning not only secured a morale-boosting win, but it also allowed the Indians to maintain their footing atop the American League Central. With Detroit and Kansas City each picking up a win on Monday as well, the Tribe remains 4 1/2 games up on the Tigers and 5 1/2 ahead of the Royals.
The hope now is that this kind of emotional victory can jump-start the Indians for the stretch run.
"At this time, it's nice to get a win in any form," Kipnis said. "Hopefully, the more wins we get, the more relaxed we can be. Not to say guys are pressing, but guys are still trying to find the adjustments that are working. We know there are ups and downs. It wouldn't be a bad idea if we could get on a hot stretch in the last month of the season."
Cleveland's eighth walk-off win of the year began with a bunt.
Abraham Almonte pulled off a textbook drag bunt, tapping a 1-0 pitch from Kintzler up the first-base line, where it skipped between the pitcher and first baseman Joe Mauer. Almonte sprinted hard up the line and reached safely as the ball rolled to a stop in the grass.
"That was a really nice bunt," Francona said.
That set things up for catcher Chris Gimenez, who misfired on a pair of sacrifice-bunt attempts, but he salvaged his at-bat by slashing a single into right. Then, following a couple of missed bunt attempts of his own, Rajai Davis grounded a pitch to third baseman Miguel Sanó, who tagged Almonte on his way to third. Davis beat the subsequent throw across the diamond, but Almonte was called out.
Francona challenged the ruling -- believing that Sano missed the swipe-tag attempt -- but the call stood after a replay review.
"I actually think Abe was safe," Francona said. "I just think we didn't have a good enough angle to show it."
Kipnis followed by slicing a 1-0 offering from Kintzler into the left-center gap, giving Gimenez ample time to score from second base. As he crossed the plate, the Cleveland catcher raised his right arm in the air and pointed to the sky. After nine scoreless innings, the Indians got the one run they needed.
"If we have to win 1-0 games, we'll win 1-0 games," Kipnis said. "We'll take it."
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.