7/19/2014 1:00 P.M. ET
Kipnis getting locked in at the plate
By Jordan Bastian / MLB.com
DETROIT -- The bright orange shirts first popped up in Cleveland shortly before the All-Star break. Indians players have taken to wearing them around the clubhouse and during batting practice, having a little fun with second baseman Jason Kipnis.
The front of the shirts read, "JK Construction," and the back has the slogan, "I break it. You fix it."
Kipnis has been vague about the origins of the humorous tees, but the Tribe's second baseman laughed and elaborated in more detail after the Indians' 9-3 rout of the Tigers on Friday night. Kipnis was understandably in a good mood after launching two home runs and collecting four RBIs in the victory for Cleveland.
"I break it, you fix it," Kipnis said with a laugh. "That's down below where the cameras can't go."
What has Kipnis broken?
"Anything I can lift, usually," he said. "I've got a nice little tab going on downstairs. If some guys say we need a new fan or [air conditioner], and I go 0-for-3 or something like that, I'm a team player. I'll help them out and knock it out of the wall and we'll have a new one there the next day."
Kipnis has saved the damage for on the field lately. With his showing on Friday night, the second baseman has posted a .319 average with three extra-base hits, five stolen bases, six RBIs, nine runs scored and an .842 OPS in his last 11 games, entering Saturday's doubleheader in Detroit. He ended a drought of 218 plate appearances without a home run on Friday, and then belted homers in consecutive at-bats.
On the season, Kipnis has hit .257 with five homers, 13 stolen bases, 20 extra-base hits, 28 RBIs, 36 runs and .706 OPS through 69 games.
"I can go through a lot of breaks in power," Kipnis said. "But, I think you guys have seen [homers] come in bunches for me. Hopefully, it's a sign of something good. Let's really hope that it is."
Kipnis cracked a smile when asked who was behind the T-shirts.
"The secret guy behind everything: Corey Kluber," Kipnis said. "Any time you don't think it's him, it's him."
Raburn hoping for fresh start in second half
DETROIT -- Ryan Raburn is hoping that the All-Star break will serve as a clean slate. Following a rough first half in the batter's box, the Indians utility man played a key role in Friday's comeback victory over the Tigers.
It was the kind of fresh start Raburn needed.
"In every way imaginable, it was huge," Raburn said, "for me, personally, and for the team."
Raburn came off the bench as a pinch-hitter in the seventh inning on Friday night and delivered an RBI double that knotted the game at 3. Cleveland went on to score seven runs in the inning en route to a 9-3 romp over Detroit.
Indians manager Terry Francona was thrilled for Raburn, who ended the evening 2-for-3 with a pair of doubles.
"We need him," Francona said. "We can't run from guys like that. We've got to try to get them going. They all have their roles, and when Ray is hitting the way he can, man, it just makes us a different team. Last year, when he played, it was like having another cleanup hitter. That's the kind of numbers he was putting up."
Heading into Saturday's doubleheader in Detroit, the 33-year-old Raburn was batting .208 with two home runs, 18 RBIs and a .542 OPS through 56 games for Cleveland. Last year, Raburn hit .272 with 16 homers, 55 RBIs and a .901 OPS in 87 games for the Indians, who signed him to a two-year contract extension that includes a club option for 2016.
In the 10 games prior to the All-Star break, Raburn hit at just a .125 (3-for-24) clip, making for a rough end to a forgettable first half. He is hoping Friday's showing will help swing things in the right direction for the season's final two-plus months.
"Definitely. It's a new half," Raburn said. "Everything that's happened in the past is in the past. You can't change anything with that. You just have to keep battling forward. Hopefully, it turns around."
Bauer turns to old-school training over break
DETROIT -- The All-Star break is a time of retreat for many big league players. They might head home to relax or take their family on vacation. During this year's four-day break, Indians pitcher Trevor Bauer stayed in Cleveland and found a fence.
Bauer, who started the last game of the first half and then opened the second with a start in Detroit on Friday night, wanted to stay on his regular throwing program on Monday during the intermission. Progressive Field was unavailable for playing catch due to preparations for Friday's country music concert.
"I just found a fence," Bauer said. "I took four baseballs out there and threw them into the fence. Walked and picked them up."
The chain-link fence ran along a pool on the southern edge of Lincoln Park in Cleveland's Tremont neighborhood. Bauer simply wanted to simulate playing catch, so he turned to the method he used during his high school days. Back then, the right-hander would use the fence for his school's tennis courts.
"I didn't have some tennis instructor trying to steal my baseballs [this time]," Bauer said.
Bauer was unable to warm up on the field at the Tribe's ballpark on Wednesday, so the pitcher did his workout and mound session in the team's bullpen. Bauer overcame the unconventional conditions on Friday, when he held Detroit to three runs over six innings en route to the first road victory of his career.
"I'm usually able to find a way to navigate through things," said Bauer, who admittedly fought command issues. "It's very rare that a start spirals out of control for me. So, I'll take it on a night that I don't feel good, for sure, especially six innings, three runs and the team comes up huge [with seven runs] in the seventh like that. It was good."
Quote to note
"I've heard it for two years now. I guess it's part of the game, I don't know. I don't have any ill feelings toward anybody here. I had a bad year the last year I was here. My goal is to help this ballclub as much as I can, whatever that takes.."
-- Raburn, on being booed in Detroit, where he spent parts of seven seasons
• By starting both games on either side of the All-Star break, Bauer became the first Indians pitcher to start consecutive games for the club since 1981, when Bert Blyleven did so on June 10 and Aug. 10 (before and after a strike). The last Cleveland pitcher to start the last game of the first half and the first game of the second half was Wayne Garland in 1977.
• All-Star Michael Brantley collected four hits and a stolen base in Friday's 9-3 win over the Tigers, marking the second time this season the outfielder has hit those marks in a game. The last Indians batter to have two such games in the same season was Shin-Soo Choo in 2009. Roberto Alomar (2001) was the last Cleveland hitter to accomplish the feat at least three times in one year.
• Bauer is the only pitcher this season to have at least three strikeouts against Tigers designated hitter Victor Martinez, who entered Saturday with more walks (33) than strikeouts (25). Bauer and Royals right-hander Jeremy Guthrie are the only pitchers this season to strike out Martinez swinging at least twice.
• The Indians will recall right-hander Zach McAllister from Triple-A Columbus prior to Game 2 of Saturday's doubleheader to start against the Tigers. McAllister, who was optioned to the Minors on Tuesday, will serve as Cleveland's 26th player for the twin bill.