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Thriving Indians, Kipnis look to top Rangers again

Thu Jun 20 2:12am ET

Jason Kipnis was swinging a mighty frigid bat earlier this month.

It has since heated up and the 32-year-old second baseman will strive to help the Cleveland Indians continue their high-scoring ways when they close a four-game series on Thursday against the Texas Rangers in Arlington, Texas.

The Indians scored 10 runs in each of the past two wins after losing the series opener. Kipnis followed up a three-RBI performance on Tuesday by smacking two homers and driving in four runs on Wednesday as the Indians prevailed 10-4 for their 10th win in their past 14 games.

Kipnis is 7-for-15 with three homers and 10 RBIs over the past four games after going 4-for-36 over the first 10 games of the month. His increased production comes during a time in which the Indians have scored at least eight runs in six of their past 13 games.

"I think guys are starting to hit their stride," Kipnis said in a postgame television interview with SportsTime Ohio on Wednesday. "Remember, this is a long season. I think a month ago you were talking about how anemic our offense was -- everyone was saying it.

"We have a lot of pride. We have some good ballplayers in here. It was a matter of time before we righted the ship."

Kipnis' second multi-homer game of the season -- and sixth of his career -- included a three-run homer in the first inning to help propel Cleveland to a 5-0 lead.

Four other Indians joined Kipnis in collecting two hits -- Francisco Lindor, Jordan Luplow, Oscar Mercado and Carlos Santana. Luplow drove in three runs while Roberto Perez added a solo homer.

Cleveland manager Terry Francona isn't overly surprised that his team is performing much better offensively. He points to the month being June.

"We've swung the bat better," Francona said during his postgame press conference. "April can be a really cruel month, especially in Cleveland. But it is past. What you do is you keep playing.

"We have guys who have proven they can do it and they are picking it up."

Texas will look to gain a split of the series on Thursday when it sends veteran left-hander Mike Minor to the mound.

Minor (6-4) ranks fifth in the American League with a 2.63 ERA and has struck out 99 in 95 2/3 innings.

The 31-year-old Minor snapped a four-start winless stretch when he defeated the Cincinnati Reds in his last turn on Saturday. Minor allowed three runs and four hits in 6 1/3 innings in a 4-3 win.

Minor will make his first career start against the Indians. He is 1-0 in six relief appearances, striking out 14 and allowing four hits over 8 1/3 scoreless innings.

Right-hander Shane Bieber (6-2, 3.92) will start for Cleveland and looks to win his fifth straight decision.

Bieber struck out 12 in 7 2/3 innings while beating the Detroit Tigers on Saturday. He allowed two runs and four hits and walked one.

The 24-year-old Bieber has fanned 10 or more in three of his last six outings. He ranks sixth in the AL with 108 strikeouts.

Bieber is starting against Texas for the first time.

Rangers manager Chris Woodward hopes his team can start fast on Thursday. He said his team's strategy was forced to change when the Indians put five on the board in the first frame on Wednesday.

"It's tough," Woodward said in his postgame news conference. "It is why I stress so much about getting ahead in games. Five is different than two or three, obviously, but anytime you score first it takes the other team out of their game plan.

"It is really hard to reverse that momentum when we're down by five."

Asdrubal Cabrera and Danny Santana homered for Texas in Wednesday's game. All 11 of Cabrera's blasts have come at home.

--Field Level Media

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