Kipnis enjoys return to his second home as Cubs beat Cleveland
Jason Kipnis spent nine seasons with Cleveland, but his return to his second home began with a tour of Progressive Field.
"I've already had (Anthony) Rizzo walking me through where, 'I celebrated here and celebrated there, '" Kipnis said before the game. "I'm like, 'Thanks buddy, I get it.' "
Rizzo was referring to the 2016 World Series, which ended with a Cubs victory in Cleveland.
Northbrook native Kipnis played on the losing side and was asked if he heard about it from any other Cubs teammate.
"No, he (Rizzo) is the only jerk on the team," Kipnis joked.
Kipnis did have a nice return to Cleveland, though. The Indians played a tribute video before the game, Kipnis waved to an empty stadium, then he doubled and scored a run in the Cubs' 7-1 victory Tuesday night.
The Cubs (11-3) produced an unprecedented offensive outburst. In its first 17 games of the season, Cleveland (10-8) hadn't allowed more than 4 runs in any game.
Jason Heyward was the offensive star, going 3-for-4 with 4 RBI and a 3-run homer in the sixth that broke the game open. Ian Happ and Javy Baez had 2 hits each.
The Cubs showed no signs of rust after a four-day break caused by the cancellation of their weekend series in St. Louis after more Cardinals players tested positive for COVID-19.
Jon Lester, who was supposed to start last Friday in St. Louis, allowed just 1 run and 3 hits over 6 innings against Cleveland. He said it was the first time since he played in the minors that he flew to a city on the same day he pitched.
"It's going to be more of a roller coaster because it's such a compact season," Lester said after the game. "It's kind of cool to have this kind of pressure on you from Day One. I feel like guys are grinding a little bit more early on. I think it shows in our at-bats, it shows on the mound. It's been a fun 14 games."
The Indians made a late change to their pitching assignment Tuesday. Mike Clevinger was replaced by Adam Plutko after it was discovered Clevinger left the hotel for a night out with teammate Zach Plesac in Chicago when playing the White Sox last weekend.
Kipnis started at second base in his return to Cleveland and went 1-for-3 with a walk and run scored. Before the game, he talked about the returning to the city where he played from 2011-19.
"It's a very homey vibe here for me," he said. "Driving in from the airport, it literally felt like I was coming home after living here for nine years. Everything is still familiar. The difference was I get to walk to the ballpark from a hotel.
"It's been such a fun ride here (the Cubs) so far. The team's been a lot of fun. I usually immerse myself in what I'm doing."
Kipnis talked about the trade-off of losing the 2016 World Series to the team he grew up rooting for.
"The 99 percent of me was absolutely crushed from 2016, then 1 percent where I can look back at the field at the last second and think, 'At least it's the Cubs.' There's a little hat tip," Kipnis said.
"The transition is the 99 percent excitement that I have to go play at home in front of my friends and family now. The 1 percent is the '16 banners are everywhere, the videos and highlights are all over the place. So I have to keep reliving it and that kind of stinks a little bit.
"It's a trade-off. I've got some thick skin to begin with, so I just brush it off. It was unbelievable series. We lost, it just happens. Someone loses every year in every sport. You can't change it, you just have to keep trying to win the next one."
The Cubs have the best record in the majors, so maybe for Kipnis winning the next one is possible.
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