Kipnis Hits His Stride and Sends Tribe To Victory; Indians 5, Athletics 1
By Mike Brandyberry
Good things come to those who wait and Jeanmar Gomez has waited quite a while to get the chance to reap the benefits of a solid spring. Gomez worked into the sixth inning, and Jason Kipnis burst loose offensively, to give the Indians a 5-1 victory over the Oakland Athletics.
The victory gives the Tribe a 7-1 record on the west coast road trip and leaves them just one game behind the Detroit Tigers for first place in the standings.
The Tribe struck right away in the top of the first when Jason Kipnis and Shin-Soo Choo each singled and Carlos Santana walked. Travis Hafner followed with a slow roller to the right side for a fielder’s choice and plating the game’s first run. Shelley Duncan struck out and the Indians could not get the big hit to create a big inning but did lead, 1-0.
Meanwhile, Jeanmar Gomez battled through the first two innings, leaving runners in scoring position in each frame before settling down. After a phenomenal spring to win the fifth starter’s spot, Gomez had only thrown four innings of regular season play before tonight’s start. Gomez pitched once in relief and was ejected after two innings of his start last Saturday evening in Kansas City.
The rust was evident early, but Gomez settled down to retire 11 hitters in a row from the end of the second inning to the end of the fifth. Gomez worked five and one-third innings, allowing four hits and one earned run.
Cleveland tacked on to their lead in the top of the sixth when Jason Donald lined a base hit to centerfield and stole second base. Kipnis followed with a base hit to left, centerfield to plate Donald and give the Indians a 2-0 lead. Kipnis, who has struggled early this season, had four hits in the game. He raised his season average from .167 to .226 with his offensive outburst.
“It gets to the point you’d prefer a swinging bunt for hit than a line drive,” Kipnis said. “You can’t think that way, you have to trust yourself and know you are having good at bats.”
Gomez’s streak of retiring hitters ended when Cliff Pennington dropped a double down the right field line to lead off the sixth inning. He got Josh Reddick to fly to centerfield before manager Manny Acta issued a quick hook. Dan Wheeler followed getting Yoenis Cespedes to fly out, but allowing Pennington to score, cutting the lead to 2-1. Wheeler would finish the inning without allowing any further damage.
Athletics’ starting pitcher, Brandon McCarthy, left after seven innings, scattering ten hits but only allowing two runs. He’d be relieved by Brian Fuentes who would retire the first two hitters before allowing the flood gates to open.
With two outs, Donald and Brantley singled before Kipnis earned his fourth hit of the night, tripling off the right field wall. Reddick misplayed the ball and allowed the bases to empty. A wild pitch by Fuentes would allow Kipnis to score and give the Tribe a 5-1 lead in the middle of the eighth inning.
Tony Sipp worked a scoreless seventh inning and Vinnie Pestano a scoreless eighth. Sipp, who has struggled mightily, worked a three-up, three-down inning. Jairo Asencio started the ninth, but allowed an infield hit and a double with one out. After striking out Kurt Suzuki, he gave way to Chris Perez who recorded the final out and his sixth save of the early season.
Sunday Justin Masterson will go for the series sweep and try to rebound from two rocky starts. He’ll be matched up against Tyson Ross of the Oakland Athletics at 4:07 ET on STO and the Indians Radio Network.
Photo: Getty Images