Kipnis Completes Come From Behind Win; Indians 3, Angels 2
By Mike Brandyberry
Everyone needs a hero from time to time. The Indians found one Monday evening in Jason Kipnis and his first major league hit. His hit in the bottom of the ninth inning scored Carlos Santana and completed a 3-2, come from behind victory over the Los Angeles Angels.
A season never hinges on one game, but after a week of poor outfield play and an anemic offense the Indians were desperate for a victory and to keep pace with the now, first place Detroit Tigers. The Tigers entered the evening with a two game lead, the largest for any team in the division since June 6. As the offensive struggles have continued, the pressure to be perfect has seemed to increase for the entire team.
The Indians looked to take control of the game early when Michael Brantley doubled and Asdrubal Cabrera drove him home in the very next at bat. After only three hitters, the Indians had a 1-0 lead. Dan Haren would only allow one more hit on the evening, a bunt single by Santana.
Meanwhile, Fausto Carmona was left to try and manage the minute lead. Carmona danced in and out of trouble for the entire evening, giving up four hits and three walks in six innings. As is the case in many Carmona starts, it appeared the Angels were one hit away from taking control of the game, but Carmona seemed to elude trouble this evening. After completing the sixth inning on only six pitches, Manny Acta decided Carmona’s night was complete and entrusted the game to the Bullpen Mafia.
With an imperfect offense, the pitching staff is often asked to be perfect. Despite the many perfect evenings provided by the bullpen this year, Vinnie Pestano gave up a two-run home run to Indian Killer, Bobby Abreu. As the ball left the bat of Abreu, you could feel the enthusiasm and air sucked from the 19,384 in attendance at Progressive Field. But, when a team struggles to score runs the way the Indians have, by the time the ball landed most had to believe the game was over.
Dan Haren was masterful on the evening, pitching seven and two-thirds innings, allowing only the three hits. When you struggle like the Indians have, bad luck seems to be the only luck you can find. Once Haren left the game, pinch hitter Austin Kearns lined a ball straight back up the middle off reliever Scott Downs. Downs caught the ball by reflex. He had to look in his glove to see if he had caught the liner.
Brantley led off the ninth with a base hit to left center field, then stole second. After Asdrubal struck out, Travis Hafner doubled to the left field wall and scored Brantley to tie the game at two. After Santana walked and Jack Hannahan was hit by a pitch, the Tribe had the bases loaded with only one out.
With a drawn in, five man infield, Travis Buck grounded into a fielder’s choice for the second out of the inning, leaving Kipnis as the last hope. Kipnis hit the second pitch he saw from Hisanori Takahashi to right field to win the game. The base hit was Kipnis’ first of his career in only his second big league game.
Kipnis and the rest of the Indian offense will have to continue to battle some of the best pitching in the American League during this series, as they try to stay afloat in the Central Division race. Josh Tomlin (11-4, 4.12) will battle Jered Weaver (13-4, 1.81) in Tuesday’s contest at 7:10 ET.