CHICAGO -- Cleveland Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis was raised in the Chicago suburb of Northbrook, and as such, he grew up on Cubs baseball, but the native son did in his hometown team in Game 4 of the 2016 World Series at Wrigley Field Saturday night.
In the Indians’ 7-2 win over the Cubs, Kipnis smacked a three-run home run off of reliever Travis Wood into the seats in right field in the top of the seventh inning and his first career World Series home run turned a three-run game into a rout.
“We’re baseball players,” Kipnis said. “This is what we live for. This kind of stage is what we all dream about. To be able to do it in my hometown, I was smiling from ear to ear on the inside, but at the same time, I still had a job to do.
“It was special. It was special. A Wrigley home run, a World Series home run, there’s so many things I can check off on that one that makes that one a special swing for me.”
Leading the way for the Indians with a three-for-five showing with three runs batted in and two scored against the Cubs, Kipnis said he envisioned such a moment as the home run “a lot of times” as a kid growing up on the north side of the city.
“It went a lot farther than that one too, in my mind,” Kipnis said. “You can’t draw this up. Everyone makes that situation with tee-ball in the backyard or whiffle ball, and I just actually got to live it, so you can imagine the kind of high I’m feeling right now.”
Since the World Series shifted to Chicago, Kipnis has been surrounded by family and friends soaking up the moment that he was playing in the Fall Classic and doing so against a Cubs team that had not played this far into the postseason since 1945.
“It’s comforting,” Kipnis said. “It kind of dims the moment for me a little bit in a good way, where everything’s not just bright lights and wide-eyed. I’m still grounded. I still have the people that mean the most to me by my side and that they’re sharing in this moment with me and they’re enjoying it makes that even more special for me.”
That special journey could take another turn tonight when the Indians go for the series-clinching victory over the Cubs, as one win separates the team from breaking its 68-year championship drought and carrying on a run of success for Cleveland athletes and teams.
A win would make the Indians the fourth individual or team champion in the city in the last five months, as Stipe Miocic won the UFC heavyweight championship in May, which the Lake Erie Monsters and Cleveland Cavaliers followed with wins in the Calder Cup and NBA Finals respectively.
“I’m trying not to, but the thought is creeping into my mind,” Kipnis said. “We’ve still got one very tough victory to get. They’ve got their stud on the mound, Jon Lester. He’s not going to make anything easy on us, but the fact that we’re one win away, a 3-1 series lead, you can’t ask for a much better position. We’re close. We’re almost there.”