Some positive news here for the Indians, who sit at the very bottom of the AL Central standings.
Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that star second baseman Jason Kipnis — who’s been on the disabled list since April 30 with a right oblique strain — has been cleared to begin a minor league rehab assignment on Friday with Triple-A Columbus. If everything goes according to plan, Kipnis will return to the Indians’ lineup on Monday, May 26 for the start of a three-game series against the White Sox at Chicago’s U.S. Cellular Field.
Kipnis was hitting just .234/.354/.394 through his first 113 plate appearances this season, but the dynamic 27-year-old is capable of finding a groove as soon as he is activated. He batted .284/.366/.452 with 17 home runs, 84 RBI, and 30 stolen bases in 658 plate appearances last summer for the Tribe.
Kipnis signed a six-year, $52.5 million contract extension with Cleveland on April 4.
Angels DH Albert Pujols passed Mark McGwire for sole possession of 10th place on baseball’s all-time home run leaderboard, slugging his 584th career home run in the first inning of Wednesday night’s game against the Blue Jays.
Mike Trout had already slugged a solo home run off of Jays starter Marco Estrada to bring Pujols to the dish. Pujols jumped on an 0-1 cut fastball, sending it out to left-center field, clearing the fence by a few feet.
Pujols, who finished 4-for-4 with the homer and an RBI double, is batting .257/.321/.441 with 24 home runs and 99 RBI on the year. His next target on the home run leaderboard is Frank Robinson at 586.
Orioles closer Zach Britton had appeared in a major league record 43 consecutive games without allowing an earned run, spanning May 5 to August 22. That streak came to an end on Wednesday evening against the Nationals.
The Orioles entered the bottom of the ninth inning holding a 10-3 lead, but reliever Parker Bridwell immediately found himself in hot water. He yielded back-to-back singles to Danny Espinosa and Clint Robinson. He was able to strike out Trea Turner, but walked Jayson Werth to load the bases. Daniel Murphy then crushed his first career grand slam to make it a 10-7 game. That prompted manager Buck Showalter to bring in Britton.
Britton, too, was knocked around. He served up a single to Bryce Harper, followed by a double to Anthony Rendon that scored Harper, pushing the score to 10-8 and ending Britton’s streak. Wilson Ramos reached on a fielder’s choice back to Britton, but the lefty finally finished the game by getting Ryan Zimmerman to ground into a game-ending 4-6-3 double play.
Britton now holds a nice 0.69 ERA with 38 saves and a 61/16 K/BB ratio in 52 innings of work this season.