Jason Kipnis’ walk-off three-run home run in the bottom of the 10th inning off of Lucas Luetge propelled the Indians to a 6-3 win over the Seattle Mariners on Friday night.
Kipnis’ home run was met with overwhelming response from the 34,000+ fans who attended the Friday night extravaganza. The crowd was electric throughout the night and reached its peak when Kipnis’ home run barely passed over the wall in right field. Those 34,282 fans consumed over 66,000 hot dogs on Dollar Dog Night, breaking the ballpark record.
Kipnis has returned to his former self in the month of May, batting .295 (.362 OBP) with 6 HR and 19 RBI. The game winning at-bat was set up by rightfielder Drew Stubbs, who drew a walk with two outs and stole second on a bang-bang throw from first baseman Justin Smoak. From there, Bourn reached on an infield single and stole second before Kipnis ended the game with one swing.
The Indians offense had been cold throughout most of the night, totaling only five hits before the 10th inning. Jason Giambi had a sacrifice fly to score Nick Swisher in second inning and Carlos Santana scored on a wild pitch in the subsequent at-bat. Drew Stubbs homered to right field in the fifth inning. Mariners starter Brandon Maurer went six innings, allowing three runs and five hits along with four walks and six strikeouts.
Ubaldo Jimenez struggled with command all night but managed to pitch very well, although in only five innings. He allowed only two runs on seven hits with two walks and a whopping nine strikeouts. His only mistake of the night was driven to Pronkville by Kendrys Morales in the fourth inning. Rich Hill ruined Ubaldo’s bid for a win in relief in the sixth, giving up a two-run blast to Raul Ibanez that tied the game at 3.
The Indians received a scoreless inning of relief in the 10th from set-up man Vinnie Pestano, making his first appearance since April 28th after being put on the 15-day DL with elbow soreness. Mariners outfielder Michael Morse was a late scratch with an irritated eye. Endy Chavez took his spot in right field and batted eighth.
Friday night’s ballgame was a blast from the past with former Indians manager Eric Wedge and pitching coach Carl Willis both making appearances on the field. Former Indians catcher Kelly Shoppach was in the starting lineup and finished 0-3 with a walk.
The Indians have won 15 of 19 and are 10-2 at Progressive Field since April 30. With this win, the Indians improve to 23-17 and are now in first place in the AL Central. RHP Zach McAllister (3-3) will toe the hill vs. LHP Joe Saunders (3-4) on Saturday at 1:05 pm.
W – Vinnie Pestano (1-0)
L – Lucas Luetge (0-1)
MVP: Jason Kipnis – 2-4, HR, 3 RBI, BB
Hot Dog Race Winner: Onion