Jason Kipnis had made a habit of hitting first-inning home runs this season. On Friday night, he tried something different.
Kipnis hit a three-run homer with two outs in the 10th inning off Lucas Luetge to lead the Cleveland Indians to a 6-3 win over the Seattle Mariners.
The home run was the seventh of the season for Kipnis. The first five came in the first inning before he homered in the eighth in Wednesday’s win over Philadelphia. His walkoff shot Friday came on an 0-1 pitch and capped a two-out rally that began with a walk and an infield hit.
”This was outstanding,” said Kipnis, who was mobbed by his teammates at home plate. ”This was one of the more fun nights I’ve had on a baseball field.”
The Indians have won 15 of 19 and are 10-2 at Progressive Field since April 30. Vinnie Pestano (1-0), activated from the disabled list before the game, worked around a one-out walk in the 10th.
The game drew a crowd of 34,282, a total boosted by a postgame fireworks show and a $1 hot dog promotion. The Indians are last in the majors in attendance despite being 18-7 since April 20. The biggest crowd of the season since the home opener was not lost on Cleveland’s players.
”That was awesome,” Kipnis said. ”I was just as amped up as they were rounding first base. You never want to put too much emphasis on different wins, but we knew we had a big crowd. To get a win in front of them and to get it like this in front of them, hopefully it brings some of them back, because we had a lot of fun tonight.”
The Indians posted their third walk-off win of the season and are 4-0 in extra innings.
”There were no words coming out when I was rounding (the bases) and screaming,” Kipnis said. ”It was just sounds, just gibberish screams.”
Added Indians manager Terry Francona: ”Watching the guys jumping all over each other is fun.”
Drew Stubbs, who homered in the fifth, drew a walk off Luetge (0-1). Stubbs broke for second with a 1-2 count on Michael Bourn, and Luetge threw to first baseman Justin Smoak, but Stubbs beat the throw to shortstop Brendan Ryan. Bourn hit a slow roller past the mound and second baseman Dustin Ackley’s throw to first was late.
”That was the matchup we wanted, lefty-on-lefty there, but he (Luetge) just spun one up there and they took advantage of it,” Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. ”Speed got us there in the 10th. The kid (Stubbs) did a heck of a job getting to second base, and Bourn is just so fast.”
The Mariners fell short of reaching the .500 mark for the first time since they were 4-4 on April 8. Raul Ibanez’s two-run homer in the sixth tied the game, and the bullpens on both sides took over.
Chris Perez retired the side in order in the ninth. Perez, who has been nursing a stiff shoulder, was pitching for the first time since May 11. Pestano had been on the DL since May 1 with a sore right elbow.
Mariners relievers Charlie Furbush and Carter Capps combined to pitch 3 1/3 scoreless innings. Capps struck out Mark Reynolds to start the 10th. Luetge got Michael Brantley to ground out before running into trouble. Seattle lost for just the seventh time in 19 games.
Ubaldo Jimenez allowed two runs and struck out a season-high nine in five innings. He was pulled after Smoak led off the sixth with a single. Rich Hill was brought in to face Ibanez, who homered to right on an 0-1 pitch to tie the game. Jimenez, who had won three consecutive starts, struck out five of the first seven batters he faced. Seattle rookie Brandon Maurer allowed three runs in six innings. The right-hander matched a career high with six strikeouts.
Jason Giambi’s sacrifice fly gave Cleveland the lead in the second. Maurer’s wild pitch allowed another run to score. Kendry Morales’ solo homer into the second deck in right field cut the lead to 2-1 in the fourth. Stubbs homered in the fifth to give Cleveland a two-run lead.
Nick Swisher drew a leadoff walk in the second and took third on a double by Carlos Santana. Swisher scored on Giambi’s fly ball to right, which also moved Santana to third. Santana scored when Maurer bounced a pitch in front of the plate with Brantley batting.
Morales, who flirted with an extra-base hit down the right-field line before lining out to Jimenez in the first, homered on a 2-0 pitch with one out in the fourth.
Stubbs’ drive to right with one out in the fifth landed in Seattle’s bullpen, barely clearing the wall.
Kipnis and Ryan were came up hobbled in the third. Kipnis banged his head into the right leg of Ryan as he dove into second on a failed steal attempt. Ryan applied the tag, but both players were down for a couple of moments after the play as the two managers and trainers ran on the field. Kipnis and Ryan remained in the game.
Mariners outfielder Michael Morse was a late scratch with an irritated eye. Endy Chavez took his spot in right field and batted eighth.
Indians RHP Brett Myers (sore elbow) pitched three scoreless innings for Double-A Akron on a rehab assignment against Erie on Friday. … Mariners RHP Hector Noesi, who made an emergency start Thursday in place of RHP Aaron Harang (lower back stiffness), was optioned to Triple-A Tacoma before the game. RHP Danny Farquhar was called up from Tacoma to provide some bullpen depth for the next couple of days. … Seattle manager Eric Wedge said Harang was examined by a chiropractor Friday and is still set to make his next start Tuesday against the Angels. … Jimenez hasn’t won four consecutive starts since 2010. … Mariners LHP Joe Saunders (3-4) meets Indians RHP Zach McAllister (3-3) on Saturday.