Clutch Kipnis Closes Out Cards; Indians 4, Cardinals 1
By Robert Toth
A second solid outing in a row by Ubaldo Jimenez was capped by a ninth inning three-run home run by Jason Kipnis off Cardinals’ closer Jason Motte and the Indians grabbed this afternoon’s rubber match in St. Louis, 4-1.
St. Louis jumped on the board with their second batter of the game, when Carlos Beltran hit a 3-1 pitch out to right centerfield for his second solo homer in as many games. It was the 18th time this year Beltran has gone yard, leading the National League. It was the ninth home run allowed this season by Ubaldo Jimenez.
After Beltran, Jimenez settled into a great groove, retiring 13 consecutive hitters before Daniel Descalso singled to right in the bottom of the fifth. He again resembled the pitcher Tribe brass hoped to acquire at last season’s trading deadline. Jimenez did his best to give the Indians a chance to win, going seven innings and allowing just one run on five hits. He looked good commanding the strike zone, striking out seven batters and issuing no free passes. Sixteen of twenty-five first pitches thrown by Jimenez went for strikes.
“[Ubaldo] got into a great rhythm,” Indians manager Manny Acta said. “He had the good fastball…Everything was working for him. I’m very happy to see him go back to back solid outings.”
The Indians plated Shin-Soo Choo in the third inning to tie the game at 1-1 on a sacrifice fly by Carlos Santana. Choo led off the inning with a ground rule double to left. He was moved to third base on a groundout to first by Asdrubal Cabrera and was driven home by Santana after a full-count walk to Jason Kipnis. Santana, marred in a 2-for-20 slump entering the game, drove in just his third run of the month of June with a fly ball to medium deep left field.
Jimenez kept the Cardinals at bay through seven, when he was lifted for reliever Vinnie Pestano. Pestano was able to quickly retire Adron Chambers on a groundout to shortstop, but then proceeded to walk the bases loaded. In typical Pestano fashion, he was able to collect himself and strike out both Yadier Molina and Allen Craig to retire the side with no damage done.
Pestano was lifted for pinch hitter Johnny Damon to lead off the ninth inning. He singled and moved to second on a one out walk by Asdrubal Cabrera, setting the table for the game winner from Kipnis. Kipnis took a 2-2 pitch from Cardinals’ closer Jason Motte and turned on it, belting it into the stands in right. It was the 10th home run for the Tribe’s second baseman, who also added a single, double, a walk, and his 15th stolen base of the year to his impressive performance today.
“[Motte] has a great fastball,” Kipnis said. “It just comes down to whether or not you can shorten up and simplify. I’m just trying to have good swings. I have a lot of confidence at the plate.”
Kipnis played through some pain in his right knee after fouling a pitch off of his leg the Saturday night.
Chris Perez came on for the ninth and closed out the Cardinals quickly, giving up just a David Freese single to left. The always-pumped-up closer notched his 20th save of the season before vomiting all over the field.
Michael Brantley extended his hitting streak to 18 games in the top of the sixth inning with a line drive single to right. The Tribe centerfielder has the longest active hitting streak and the second longest of the season in the American League, trailing only the Baltimore Orioles’ Adam Jones’ 20-game streak earlier in the year.
Asdrubal Cabrera jumped on the first pitch he saw in the first inning and ripped it to centerfield to extend his hitting streak to a season-high 12 games. He has had three streaks of seven games or more with a hit on the season.
Cardinals’ rookie pitcher Joe Kelly was able to avoid giving up the big inning in his Major League debut. He scattered seven hits and a walk over five innings, allowing just one earned run while leaving six Indians stranded on base. The Cardinals’ bullpen was able to continue to keep the Indians off of the scoreboard until Kipnis came to the plate in the ninth inning. The Indians stranded 10 men on base.
The Indians improve to 32-27 on the season. They are now 3-0 on the road in the rubber match of a series and are 14-7 all-time against the Cardinals. They have never lost a series to St. Louis. With the Houston Astros’ 11-9 win over the Chicago White Sox, the Indians are now just one half game out of first place in the American League Central Division.
The victorious Indians will have Monday off before starting a three-game set against Cincinnati Tuesday evening in the battle for the Ohio Cup. Jeanmar Gomez (4-4, 4.97 ERA) will be on the mound for the Tribe, taking on Johnny Cueto (6-3, 2.63 ERA), who has been the ace of the first-place Reds’ pitching staff. Six of the next nine games will come against the in-state rivals. First pitch from Cincinnati is scheduled for 7:10 pm ET Tuesday. Catch all of the action on the Cleveland Indians radio network and on SportsTime Ohio.
Photo: Jeff Curry/Getty Images