Major League Baseball

Kipnis, Indians aim to stay in the groove vs. Tigers

mlb9TIGERS (26-45) AT INDIANS (40-35)
4:10 p.m. ET; FS1, MLB.TV

Jason Kipnis put the brakes on a disastrous start to the month with a three-hit performance last Sunday against the Detroit Tigers.

Kipnis has since stepped on the gas at the plate and looks to keep trucking on Saturday as the Cleveland Indians vie for a series victory against the visiting Tigers.

Kipnis belted a go-ahead triple in the eighth inning Friday and scored what proved to be an important insurance run as Cleveland recorded a 7-6 victory.

The 32-year-old is 10-for-22 (.455) with three homers, 11 RBIs and five runs in his past six games after going 4-for-36 (.111) in his previous 10.

“A lot of times when I’m getting myself out, that’s usually the most frustrating part of these slumps,” Kipnis said. “Right now, I’m happy with the groove that we’re in, and I want to stay there.”

That groove has seen the Indians win 11 of their past 16 games overall and six of seven against Detroit this season.

Carlos Santana continued his hot hitting with his team-leading 16th homer and second in as many games by belting a two-run shot in the first inning Friday. The American League All-Star finalist at first base has reached base in 16 straight games and is 3-for-5 in his career versus Detroit’s Saturday starter, Spencer Turnbull (3-6, 3.27 ERA).

Turnbull aims to rebound from his last start in which he allowed a season-high six earned runs on 10 hits in a 8-0 setback to Cleveland on Sunday.

The 26-year-old right-hander owns an 0-2 mark with a bloated 8.10 ERA and 2.10 WHIP in three career appearances (two starts) versus the Indians.

Turnbull will also look to stop the bleeding for Detroit, which has hemorrhaged 51 runs during its current 1-6 stretch.

Cleveland’s Aaron Civale will make his major league debut Saturday in place of fellow right-hander Mike Clevinger, who was placed on the 10-day injured list due to a sprained left ankle.

Civale posted a 5-0 combined mark with a 2.85 ERA and 40 strikeouts in seven starts with Double-A Akron and Triple-A Columbus.

“He doesn’t have a lot of Triple-A experience, like (Zach) Plesac, but that doesn’t mean he can’t help us win,” Cleveland manager Terry Francona said of the 24-year-old, who owns a 1-0 record with a 3.38 ERA and 16 strikeouts in two starts (10 2/3 innings) with the Clippers.

Civale would be wise to keep a keen eye on Christin Stewart, who answered an 0-for-16 stretch with a pair of hits in Detroit’s 8-7 loss at Pittsburgh on Wednesday and three hits in the series opener versus the Indians.

Tigers right fielder Nicholas Castellanos, who has scored five times during his six-game hitting streak, was left shaking his head after Tyler Naquin‘s diving catch in the ninth inning led to a double play.

“Ninth inning, their closer is on the mound, we tag him twice and we’re down by one. You smash a ball in the gap that you think has a chance to tie the ballgame, and it turns into a double play,” Castellanos said. “I guess you can say it took the air out of our tires.”

–Field Level Media

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