Kipnis, Indians start off second half knocking down Tigers
DETROIT — The JK Construction Company, whose motto is "I break it, you fix it", has its base of operations at Progressive Field, but it had a side project earlier this season at Comerica Park.
When its CEO, Jason Kipnis, was ejected for arguing balls and strikes during a loss on April 17, the Indians second baseman took out his frustrations on a couple things at Comerica Park. After Friday, JK Construction can take a couple days off.
Kipnis doesn’t have anything to take out his frustrations after hitting two home runs in the Tribe’s 9-3 win over Detroit. His three-run homer to right in the seventh inning provided the go-ahead runs and was his first homer in 50 games. His last one was April 21 against Kansas City.
"I keep it interesting when I come to Detroit," Kipnis said. "I’ve felt like I haven’t even done it in BP for two months. Someone said I was sprinting around, I forgot what it felt like to hit one. It’s good because it was at a big time in the game."
For six innings, the Indians offense looked like it was still on the All-Star Break. Anibal Sanchez had held them to three hits and had struck out seven, including five looking.
Then the seventh inning came and the Tribe began the second half of their season. Kipnis’ homer was part of a seven-run seventh and is the most runs they have scored in an inning this year. After Kipnis, Asdrubal Cabrera homered to right. It was the second time this season the Tribe hit consecutive homers and the first time since 2012 they had done it on back-to-back pitches.
In the final three innings, the Indians scored all of their runs and had 11 hits. Michael Brantley had his second four-hit game of the season while Nick Swisher continued his bounce-back July by going 2 for 5 with three RBI. Ryan Raburn, who came into the game batting .199, entered the game as a pinch hitter in the seventh and doubled in his first two at-bats.
"That’s why we said the break can do some good for some guys. We had the lineup but had guys struggling in the first half," Kipnis said. "I don’t think anyone is mad at being at .500 in the first half because if you have a great second half that’s what we concentrate on."
In the ninth, Kipnis got the second two-homer game of his career with a solo shot to right off Chad Smith. The other one was on May 26, 2012, at Chicago.
Kipnis hit .255 in what was a non-descript first half of the season. He missed close to a month due to an oblique injury as many were wondering if that was affecting his power numbers. The ironic thing is on both home runs Friday night he didn’t need to use his oblique as the pitches were down and in, not requiring him to extend.
"I went through the same thing two years ago where I’ve had breaks in the power," Kipnis said. "You guys have seen they can come in bunches for me and hopefully tonight it’s a sign of something good."
Besides the homers, Kipnis has started to get more consistency at the plate. In the nine games he has batted leadoff since Michael Bourn was placed on the DL with a hamstring injury, Kipnis is batting .283 (11 of 39) with five RBI.
Said Terry Francona about Kipnis: "He’s such a good player that when he’s not swinging great he’s going to battle. He’ll get real hot. Maybe today is the day when you might not see only hits but also production with it."
That would also mean that JK Construction could take an extended break. The bright orange T-shirts made their first appearance last weekend making light of Kipnis’ penchant for breaking things during slumps or a 0 for 4 night.
Fans and air conditioners have met their demise due to a bad night at the plate for Kipnis.
"It’s anything I can lift usually. If anyone needs a new fan, I’m a team player and help them out," he said. "I knock it out and usually a new one is there the next day. I’ve run up a nice little tab down below.
"At least I can smile. A lot of guys are staying positive. It’s always been a tale of two halves for me. I always have one good half and one average half. I want to think I got my average one out of the way."
It is not just Kipnis who might be powering up. With three homers on Friday, the Indians have 19 in July, which is the most in the Majors. The Angels and Astros are tied for second with 16.
The win over Detroit, is Cleveland’s fifth in nine meetings this year after going 4-15 last season.