The Cleveland Indians suffered a devastating 5-4 extra-innings loss to the Minnesota Twins last night, putting the team’s already-remote playoff chances on life support, but could see second baseman Jason Kipnis return this weekend for a final push for one of the AL Wild Cards. Kipnis could return to the lineup as soon as today.
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Manager Terry Francona admitted he probably pushed Kipnis too hard, and maybe should have given the second baseman the day off on Thursday in addition to a day off on Wednesday. Kipnis missed time in May due to an oblique injury, but has struggled even when healthy this season. Kipnis made the all-star team in 2013 and finished that season hitting .284 with 17 home runs, but this season he’s down to a .242 batting average with only six home runs. Even worse for the Indians, Kipnis has struggled against left-handed pitchers all season (like most of the rest of Cleveland’s lineup), with a .258 on-base percentage against left-handers, and only one of his home runs has been off a lefty.
The 27-year old signed a six-year contract extension with the Indians shortly after Opening Day, and even a hot last week of the season by Kipnis would be an encouraging sign for Cleveland fans. Kipnis recently lashed out on Twitter after a fan accused both him and the team of not playing hard and quitting, which Kipnis disputed. Francona backed his second baseman publicly the next day, saying the tweets showed Kipnis cared about winning, and the issue hasn’t caused much more controversy.
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