Kipnis Provides Big Contribution Late in Midsummer Classic

A pair of Indians represented the city of Cleveland on the American League All-Star roster for the Midsummer Classic on Tuesday evening.

While starting pitcher Justin Masterson was a no-show on the field due to the decisions of AL manager Jim Leyland, second baseman Jason Kipnis added the late and ever important insurance run as the AL stars defeated those of the National League at Citi Field in Flushing, New York, by a 3-0 final.

Early on in the evening, it was evident that Masterson was not in the immediate plans on the AL pitching staff. Starting pitchers Max Scherzer, Chris Sale, Felix Hernandez, and Matt Moore all appeared on the mound, with only Sale pitching more than an inning. By the sixth inning, Leyland began to chip away at the relievers on his pitching staff.

It was thought that Masterson’s use in the game would be limited to an emergency role in the event that the game went into extra innings.

Entering the break, Masterson had a 10-7 record in 20 starts. He has posted a 3.72 ERA with a 1.23 WHIP. He has a career-high and Major League leading three shutouts and his three complete games are highest in the AL, trailing just NL All-Star Adam Wainwright’s four for most in baseball.

Kipnis entered Tuesday’s action in the bottom of the seventh as a defensive replacement at second base for Dustin Pedroia and as the number two hitter in the lineup.

Kipnis may have seen more playing time than expected after a first inning injury to starting AL second baseman Robinson Cano, who was hit by a fastball from New York Mets starting pitcher Matt Harvey. After initially staying in the game, Cano exited with a contusion to his right quad. Pedroia replaced him in the lineup.

Kipnis was to be the fourth hitter to the plate in the eighth inning. Kansas City catcher Salvador Perez singled to start the inning off of Atlanta closer Craig Kimbrel. Detroit shortstop Jhonny Peralta singled to right as well, but teammate Torii Hunter grounded into a double play. After taking a pair of sliders from Kimbrel, one for a called strike and one for a ball, Kipnis slashed a fastball the opposite way deep into left field. The ball went over the head of Philadelphia left fielder Domonic Brown and bounced off of the warning track and off of the wall for an RBI-double, pushing the AL lead to 3-0.

Defensively, in the bottom of the eighth Kipnis cleanly fielded the first out of the inning on a groundout by Milwaukee’s Jean Segura.

Kipnis also made the catch on the final out of the game as Pittsburgh’s Pedro Alvarez popped up to shallow right field to end it.

In 84 games this season, Kipnis is batting .301 with a .383 on-base percentage. He is tied or leads the Indians in batting average and on-base percentage as well as RBI (57), runs (53), hits (96), doubles (t-23), triples (3), and stolen bases (21). His 13 home runs at the All-Star Break are second on the team behind Mark Reynolds.

The win by the American League ended a three-game losing streak to the National League and secured home field advantage in the World Series, something that could become important for the Indians (51-44) as they begin the second half of the season just one and a half games out of the lead in the AL Central race and three games back in the AL Wild Card.

Photo: AP Photo/Kathy Willens

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