Kipnis happy to help Indians in Seattle series
The Cleveland Indians received a jolt to their ailing offense with the return of two-time All-Star Jason Kipnis.
After recording an RBI single Monday in his first at-bat after being activated from the injured list, Kipnis looks to lead the Indians to a series victory against the host Seattle Mariners on Tuesday night.
Kipnis was all smiles after making an immediate impact following his six-game rehab stint with Triple-A Columbus as he worked his way past a low-grade calf strain.
"This was fun. I have been dying to get back for a long time here," the 32-year-old veteran said Monday after the Indians' 6-4 victory over the Mariners.
"To get back and have an impact right away just like that (helps) calm the nerves, because there's always going to be nerves in the first game. We got a big 'W,' and I'm more excited about that."
Jose Ramirez belted his first homer of the season to lead off the third inning for Cleveland, which snapped a three-game losing streak and extended Seattle's skid to four in a row.
"We are going to have some ups and downs throughout the season," Mariners manager Scott Servais said. "We're in one of those lulls right now, and a lot of it is driven by the pitchers we've been facing."
After being held in check by Trevor Bauer, Seattle found its offense by going deep for a major-league-record 19th straight contest to start the season. Former Indians slugger Edwin Encarnacion belted a two-run shot in the eighth inning, and Omar Narvaez followed with a homer in the next at-bat.
"It was tough to get much going (against) Bauer," Servais said. "Obviously he had good stuff and threw the ball well. We've seen some good pitching lately."
Right-hander Shane Bieber (1-0, 1.80 ERA) will be tasked with keeping Seattle in the park while providing a lift to a rotation that lost Mike Clevinger, who is expected to miss perhaps two months with a teres major muscle strain in his right upper back.
Bieber improved to 8-0 with a 3.25 ERA in his career on the road (13 appearances, 12 starts) after scattering three hits and striking out six in seven innings Thursday during a 4-0 win at Detroit.
Bieber, 23, will be making his 22nd career start and 24th appearance, but he will face off with Seattle for the first time. He has kept Narvaez (0-for-5, strikeout) and Mallex Smith (0-for-3, strikeout) at bay in small sample sizes.
Seattle will turn to right-hander Mike Leake (2-0, 4.15 ERA), who followed a pair of wins in his first two outings with a tough outing on Thursday. The 31-year-old, who had surrendered two homers in a 9-2 road win over the Chicago White Sox on April 6, was taken deep three times Thursday in a no-decision versus Kansas City.
He wound up yielding four runs on five hits in five innings against the Royals.
Leake improved to 4-2 with a 3.98 ERA in nine career starts against Cleveland by defeating the Indians in a pair of outings last season.
Hanley Ramirez is 6-for-12 with a homer and six RBIs against Leake, although the hurler has flustered Carlos Santana (2-for-15, five strikeouts) and Carlos Gonzalez (3-for-15).
--Field Level MediaHome