Game #24 – Texas Rangers (17-8) vs. Cleveland Indians (13-10)
By Matthew Van Wormer
Jason Kipnis is hot. Like, .439, five extra base hits, nine RBI and seven runs in his last 11 games hot. Last night, hitting in the two-hole for the second straight night, Kipnis was 2-3 with four RBI including a three-run home run that put the game out of reach for the Tribe. They held on in the bottom of the ninth, even as Dan Wheeler did his best to ruin the game, and won 7-5. The Indians are now 4 for 4 in road series, but now they head home to face a very tough Texas Rangers team.
When asked about hitting second, Kipnis said “I think a guy who is going to be a two-hole hitter has got to be someone who does that kind of thing. A little speed, a little power, a little gap-to-gap and bunt to move runners over, and that’s what I try to do.”
Maybe he just likes showing off in front of his family. Who knows?
Kipnis and the Tribe will try to keep things going tonight against right-hander, Colby Lewis (3-0, 1.93 ERA), who has pitched very well in each of his five starts. Lewis hasn’t given up more than two runs in any of his starts and has 29 strikeouts to just four walks on the season. The Indians will try to test Lewis’ control as they have been the most patient team at the plate this season.
While none of the Indians hitters have a lot of at-bats against Lewis, some guys have seen success. Michael Brantley is 3-9 against Lewis, including a triple and a home run. Johnny Damon, the most experienced hitter against Lewis, is hitting .308 (4 for 13) with a double, a triple and two RBI.
Jeanmar Gomez (1-1, 2.35 ERA) had his “worst” outing of the season against the Angels on April 28. He was victimized by a lack of run support as the Indians lost that game 2-1. Gomez, who will be making his fourth start of the season, has been very consistent, keeping the ball in the strike zone and avoiding big innings. It will be the first time any of the Rangers have seen Gomez which definitely plays into the Indians favor.
While the Indians have been road warriors, they haven’t performed as well at home. They will try to bring their road success back to Cleveland tonight against a formidable foe.
Manny Acta, speaking after the win last night, said “We need to go home and play better baseball because we have demonstrated so far that we can win on the road, we need to fight and win some games.”
They will start that fight tonight, at home-(hopefully) sweet-home, Progressive Field, at 7:05 on all the forms of media as usual.
Cleveland Indians Starting Lineup
1. Johnny Damon, LF
2. Jason Kipnis, 2B
3. Asdrubal Cabrera, SS
4. Travis Hafner, DH
5. Carlos Santana, C
6. Shin-Soo Choo, RF
7. Michael Brantley, CF
8. Casey Kotchman, 1B
9. Jack Hannahan, 3B
Texas Rangers Starting Lineup
1. Ian Kinsler, 2B
2. Elvis Andrus, SS
3. Josh Hamilton, CF
4. Michael Young, DH
5. David Murphy, LF
6. Nelson Cruz, RF
7. Mike Napoli, C
8. Mitch Moreland, 1B
9. Alberto Gonzalez, 3B
Photo: David Banks/Getty Images