CLEVELAND (92.3 the Fan) – Marriage is about compromise, among many other things, they say. Terry Francona has always been loyal to his veterans, and the Indians’ marriage with Jason Kipnis is one of their most cherished relationships.
The meeting-in-the-middle between the team’s long-term second baseman has found Kipnis re-adjusting to the outfield for the sake of his bat being in the lineup.
The 30-year old’s defense in center field has been under a microscope as of late, but that is not to overshadow the reason for the move.
Kipnis broke 5 ½ innings of scoreless baseball with what proved to be a crucial 2-run home run in the bottom of the 6th, and is now hitting 7-for-20 (.350) since September 20th.
His 7th professional season has been a bit of a whirlwind between three different injuries and now a position change, but the two-time All-Star says it is a relief to be succeeding at the dish.
“When you’ve got a bunch of things on your plate, when you’re trying to get your hamstring healthy, when you’re trying to learn a new position and find your swing, it’s nice to at least more or less be able to check one of them off,” he said. “Not that I’m going to be hot going into the playoffs, but just that I’m able to be where I want to be and able to compete, to not be in a funk or to be overthinking at the plate, to be able to just go out and have my swing where I want it to be, it’s nice to be able to add depth to this lineup, to contribute where I can.”
The 2016 post-season was fun for Carlos Carrasco, something he has admitted despite not being able to pitch due to a broken right hand. Cookie was around for the Indians’ Wild Card loss in 2013, but did not pitch.
Carrasco made his final start of the regular season on Thursday, tossing 8 1/3 innings of shutout ball, which pushed him over the 200-inning mark for the first time in his career. His 200th inning came in the team’s 100th win of the season.
Manager Terry Francona liked the look of his secondary ace while headed into his first playable postseason.
“I think this was a really good way for him to lead into a playoff start,” he said of Carrasco. “I think he feels really good about himself. Like I said, it’s the first time he’s thrown 200 innings, but he looks like it’s the first day of the season. I think that’s a credit to his ability to work and his routines. It was fun to watch today.”
To hit a milestone having to deal with usage may not be a big deal to a lot of players, but for a pitcher who has struggled with injuries, it can be a huge boost. Carrasco noted what it took to get there.
“I work really hard to pitch every five days and pitching every five days is really fun… what can I say, all the hard work has paid off,” he said. “I’m really happy for it.”
The 30-year old’s season was not just a matter of hitting usage milestones, as he performed at a similarly high level to the rest of his career. With 14 strikeouts on Thursday, he raised his season high in strikeouts from 216 in 2015 to 226.