Jason Kipnis is finding it difficult not to get excited after struggling at the plate for much of the season.
The veteran second baseman hit two home runs, going back-to-back with Roberto Pérez during a five-run first inning, and the Cleveland Indians beat the Texas Rangers 10-4 on Wednesday night.
Kipnis, a two-time All-Star, said he discovered something in his swing last weekend in Detroit. He’s 7 for 15 with three homers in his last four games after going homerless in his previous 24, with his .227 batting average being his highest since May 31.
“I don’t want to get ahead of myself, but when you think you’ve found something and can go into games and get results, it’s nice to see and it kind of reassures you that you’re doing the right things,” Kipnis said.
He pulled a three-run homer that cleared the Texas bullpen in right-center and gave Cleveland a 4-0 lead in the top of the first. Pérez followed by slicing an opposite-field homer that landed just inside the right-field foul pole.
Kipnis also homered down the right-field line in the fifth with two outs for his second two-homer game of the season and sixth of his career.
“He’s starting to use his hands like he’s can,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “That’s really good because he’s hitting off righties and lefties. That’s good to see.”
The Indians have won 10 of their last 14 games while the Rangers have lost three of their last four.
Indians starter Adam Plutko, staked to a 7-1 lead in the third inning, lasted only 4 1/3 innings and gave up three runs, two earned, on seven hits. Oliver Perez (2-1) pitched 1 2/3 innings of scoreless relief for the win.
Joe Palumbo (0-1), recalled from Double-A Frisco earlier in the day to make his second major league start, was pulled after allowing the first four batters to reach base in the third inning. Palumbo gave up seven runs and six hits, with three walks and one hit batter. He lasted four innings against the Oakland Athletics on June 8.
Rangers manager Chris Woodward said the Indians sat on Palumbo’s fastball and apparently learned from studying his start against the A’s.
“His fastball’s got some characteristics that you’d have to make an adjustment to hit,” Woodward said. “They did that.”
Asdrúbal Cabrera and ninth-inning pinch-hitter Danny Santana hit solo home runs for Texas.
Indians RF Jordan Luplow made a running, shoestring catch on a flyball hit by Willie Calhoun in the seventh inning and then doubled Nomar Mazara off first base when Texas threatened to cut into a four-run Indians lead.
Luplow’s throw nearly struck first-base umpire Doug Eddings on its way to first baseman Carlos Santana.
“I was like, ‘I’ve got to throw this right through him,'” Luplow said. “He’s got to get out of the way.”
NEXT IN RANGERS’ ROTATION?
Woodward said he’ll consider reliever Jesse Chavez as a starter — and not just as an opener, which Chavez has done four times this season — in Palumbo’s new spot after the 35-year-old threw 59 pitches and went five innings for the first time since June 1, 2018, allowing only one run.
“It’s obviously concerning when a young kid goes out and gives up seven,” Woodward said. “We’ve got to be mindful of his psyche.”
The Indians hit consecutive homers for the second straight game, going back-to-back-to-back on Tuesday. … Luplow had two hits and three RBIs. … All 11 of Cabrera’s home runs this season have come at home. … Rangers RF Shin-Soo Choo extended his home on-base streak to 32 games, second longest in the major leagues this season, with a first-inning single. … Calhoun, who singled in the fourth, has reached in all nine of his games this season.
Indians: Francona said he was pleased with the Wednesday workout of RHP Mike Clevenger, who turned his left ankle during his start Monday. Clevenger’s side throwing day was pushed back from Wednesday to Thursday.
Rangers: LHP Jeffrey Springs (bicep tendinitis) was placed on the 10-day injured list retroactive to Monday. … OF Scott Heineman (shoulder) was sent to the team’s spring training complex in Arizona to begin a rehab assignment.
Indians RHP Shane Bieber (6-2, 3.92) will close out the series on Thursday. Bieber is 4-1 on the road in seven appearances, six starts.
Rangers LHP Mike Minor (6-4, 2.63) ranks fifth in the American League in ERA but is only 1-1 in his last five starts with only nine runs of support.
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