As expected, rookie second baseman Jason Kipnis is back in the Indians’ starting lineup for Thursday night’s series finale against the White Sox.
Kipnis missed four straight games with soreness in his right oblique. The promising 24-year-old was cleared to return after making it through a workout Wednesday that consisted of batting practice, infield practice and some flat-ground throwing.
Kipnis is batting .279/.347/.603 with six home runs, 11 RBI and two stolen bases through the first 75 plate appearances of his big league career. He’s expected to get more time off in the coming days to allow his oblique injury ample time to heal, but the young infielder has ultimately avoided a trip to the disabled list.
UPDATE, 8:14pm: So much for that. According to the Indians’ official Twitter feed, Kipnis has been scratched from Thursday night’s lineup. Jason Donald will start at second base in his place.
UPDATE, 8:43pm: Kipnis was scratched Thursday due to right hamstring tightness, an ailment unrelated to his previous oblique muscle injuries. The rookie infielder can’t seem to catch a break.
The Red Sox have clinched the AL East for a third consecutive season, beating the Yankees 11-6 in the Bronx on Thursday night. It’s the third consecutive season in which the Red Sox have won the division, the first time that’s ever been done in club history. In fact, the only other times the Red Sox won the division in back-to-back years were 1903-04 and 1915-16.
AL MVP candidate Mookie Betts went 4-for-5 with a two-run single in the second inning off of Masahiro Tanaka and a three-run homer in the eighth against Aroldis Chapman to put the game out of reach. Jackie Bradley and Brock Holt also hit homers. Red Sox starter Eduardo Rodriguez was on the hook for five runs in 3 2/3 innings, but three of them scored when Heath Hembree inherited a bases-loaded situation, then served up a grand slam to Giancarlo Stanton in the fourth. The rest of the bullpen combined to fire five scoreless innings. Steven Wright had three of them followed by zeroes from Ryan Brasier and Craig Kimbrel.
With the loss, the Yankees’ lead over the Athletics for the first Wild Card slot shrinks to 1.5 games. Meanwhile, the Red Sox will try to clinch home field advantage throughout the playoffs. With a 104-49 record, their closest competitor is the 95-57 Astros. With nine games remaining in the regular season for the Red Sox, they would have to lose every game remaining in the regular season and the Astros would have to win their 10 remaining games in order to fail to claim home field advantage.