CLEVELAND — As Jason Kipnis watched the baseball soar over right field on Thursday afternoon, the Tribe second baseman hoped it had enough distance. In the same way, Kipnis is hoping that the last few games have been the turning point he has sought all season.

The deep fly in question found its way just over the wall in the sixth inning, eliciting a roar from the Progressive Field crowd and a fist pump from Kipnis as he settled into his trot. The three-run blast off Twins reliever Alan Busenitz helped power the Tribe to a 5-3 victory, and gave Mike Clevinger some room to breath in his trip to the win column.


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CLEVELAND — As Jason Kipnis watched the baseball soar over right field on Thursday afternoon, the Tribe second baseman hoped it had enough distance. In the same way, Kipnis is hoping that the last few games have been the turning point he has sought all season.

The deep fly in question found its way just over the wall in the sixth inning, eliciting a roar from the Progressive Field crowd and a fist pump from Kipnis as he settled into his trot. The three-run blast off Twins reliever Alan Busenitz helped power the Tribe to a 5-3 victory, and gave Mike Clevinger some room to breath in his trip to the win column.


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This has been a trying season for Kipnis, who is one of the vocal leaders and veterans in the clubhouse for the American League Central-leading Indians (76-57). There have been hot streaks scattered throughout the past five months, but the cold spells have been long and frigid. Kipnis has been waiting for one of the positive streaks to generate some offensive momentum.

The second baseman did his part to force the issue on Saturday in Kansas City, where his frustration boiled over into a late-night swing session in his hotel room. Kipnis set up an iPad, studied his swing from 2016 and grabbed a magazine off a table to grip as a bat. He felt he found something in his hand placement and was excited to take it into Sunday’s game.

Video: MIN@CLE: Alonso ties the game with an RBI single

One game does not erase months off struggles, but Kipnis responded with a four-hit day that was capped off with an inside-the-park home run at Kauffman Stadium. After Monday’s off-day, the second baseman collected two hits and a walk on Tuesday and then doubled and walked once against Minnesota on Wednesday.

Kipnis carried it over into Thursday’s game, during which doubled in the third inning against Twins starter Jake Odorizzi. Then in the sixth — after Yonder Alonso pulled the game into a 2-2 tie with an RBI single — Kipnis lifted a 2-2 pitch from Busenitz to right. Per Statcast™, the ball had a 35-degree launch angle and a 91.7-mph exit velocity, which equated to a 6-percent hit probability.

Twins right fielder Max Kepler jumped at the wall, but the baseball dropped into the old visitors’ bullpen — now a section for fans below the right-field seats. That propelled the Tribe to a 5-2 lead and helped Clevinger improve to 10-7 on the season behind 6 2/3 innings. Clevinger struck out nine, walked one and allowed two unearned runs in the win.

Video: MIN@CLE: Encarnacion rips an RBI single to right

Indians reliever Brad Hand surrendered a solo shot to Miguel Sano in the ninth, but that is where the Twins’ comeback bid ended.

Kipnis’ showing on Thursday gave him a .600 (9-for-15) average with five extra-base hits and a 1.200 slugging percentage over his past four games, dating back to his swing epiphany on Saturday night. That has been a welcomed development for the second baseman, who is batting .229 with a .689 OPS on the season for the Tribe.

Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and Facebook.

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