CLEVELAND — Jason Kipnis can hit ’em over the fence, too.
Four days after the red-hot Kipnis used an inside-the-park variety in Kansas City on Sunday for his 100th career home, he belted No. 101 over the right-field wall to lead the Indians over the Minnesota Twins 5-3 Thursday at Progressive Field.
The win dropped the Indians’ magic number to clinch the American League Central to 16.
The Indians (76-57) entered the bottom of the sixth trailing 2-1 with Twins starting pitcher Jake Odorizzi (5-9) still on the mound. Two consecutive walks that put the tying run in scoring position ended Odorizzi’s day in favor of reliever Alan Busenitz. A few batters later, the Indians had a four-run inning and the lead.
The Twins (62-71) deployed a shift with Yonder Alonso at the plate and one out, leaving an expanded gap to the opposite field. Alonso hit a single right through it, scoring Jose Ramirez to tie it 2-2.
After Melky Cabrera was retired on a flyout, Kipnis drove a Busenitz pitch over the wall for a go-ahead, three-run home run that proved to be the difference. It was his 13th home run of the season.
"I was willing it over that wall," Kipnis said. "I was hoping I got enough of it and I was watching the whole time. I usually just then watch the outfielder and see how big his eyes are getting or if he’s timing up a jump. Once the fans’ arms go up, mine goes up with them."
Mike Clevinger (10-7) turned in a terrific outing that might have been nearly flawless if not for an error. Clevinger cruised through the first four innings, but an error on Jose Ramirez at third base allowed Mitch Garver to reach base leading off the fifth and it came back to bite him.
Clevinger struck out the next two hitters but couldn’t escape the inning, surrendering a go-ahead, two-run home run to right field by Ehire Adrianza.
Otherwise, Clevinger was electric, allowing only four hits and walking one to go with nine strikeouts in 6? innings.
"I thought he battled like crazy," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "Had a lot of deep counts. The one cost him when he fell behind 2-0 on the home run. But his breaking ball was really good. He actually threw that for more strikes than he did his fastball."
Oliver Perez recorded two strikeouts after relieving Clevinger, and Cody Allen finished the eighth inning, walking one but recording the needed two outs.
Brad Hand allowed a solo home run to Miguel Sano in the ninth but went on to notch save No. 30 for the season and No. 6 as a member of the Indians.