Kipnis, Tribe turn focus to finishing season strong

Kipnis, Tribe turn focus to finishing season strong

Kipnis, Tribe turn focus to finishing season strong
CLEVELAND -- Every player within the Indians' clubhouse is shifting his focus for the final six weeks of this season. Cleveland has fallen out of contention, so the goal now is to concentrate on improving rather than the team's place in the standings.

That is the way Jason Kipnis views the Tribe's situation.

"We've got to get better," Kipnis said on Monday. "Winning games right now, as far back as we are, as much as it stinks to say, it's not going to change too much. I don't see us making up 16 games in the last month.

"What is important is I think we need to get better in all aspects. Not just as a team, but all of us players need to get better. I need to get better. We need to take something out of this."

In a way, the Indians' fortunes have mirrored the production of Kipnis this year.

"A little bit," he agreed. "It's kind of the tale of two cities here. That just means that myself and the team have a lot of things to work on."

Kipnis got off to a strong start for Cleveland, but his numbers began to lag once the calendar reached late June. The Indians were in first place in the American League Central with a 37-33 record on June 23. Entering Monday's game with the A's, the Tribe held a 55-72 mark and sat 16 1/2 games behind the Central-leading White Sox.

Over his last six games, Kipnis has started to look better, hitting .308 (8-for-26) with one homer and two RBIs. In his previous 48 games, which fell mostly within the Tribe's recent slide, the second baseman hit .207 (35-for-169) with no home runs and 19 RBIs.

Kipnis is hitting .257 with 12 homers, 15 doubles, 26 stolen bases and 62 RBIs through 119 games this season.

"He's swung the bat better as of late," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "It's part of the development process for those guys. You come up here and have some good times and some rough times. Right now, I think he's bouncing back and swinging the bat better."

As for his late-season goals, Kipnis said he is focusing on executing his game plan on a daily basis.

"This is my first full season," he said. "It's the first time being up here the whole time and coming down the stretch. Everyone knows me now. I'll be facing guys for the second or third time this season. Maybe four times if it's in our division. It'll be about executing.

"Guys have their plans and I have my plans. So it's going to come down to finishing the season strong and not giving away at-bats."