KANSAS CITY -- It was uncharacterstic of Jason Kipnis to not hustle to first base on the final play of Saturday's loss to the Royals. The Indians second baseman knew he made a mental gaffe and made sure he apologized to manager Terry Francona.
"He came in and said he was sorry," Francona said on Sunday. "I thought that took a lot of class. It means he cares. When guys don't always run, it doesn't mean they don't care. Sometimes it's frustration. It's human. You live and learn."
With two outs in the top of the ninth inning in Cleveland's 3-2 loss to Kansas City, Kipnis offered at a curveball from Royals closer Greg Holland for strike three. Michael Brantley was on third base for the Tribe, representing the potential tying run, and the looping pitch from Holland skipped away from Royals catcher Salvador Perez.
In a moment of frustration, Kipnis looked up at the sky instead of running to first base to force a throw from Perez. By the time Cleveland's second baseman looked down and realized his mistake, it was too late. Perez tagged Kipnis for the game's final out.
"I looked up," Kipnis said. "When I looked back, he was already running at me with the ball."
In all likelihood, the Royals would have still won the game even if Kipnis had sprinted out of the batter's box. Even so, the second baseman felt the need to apologize to Francona and to his teammates following the loss.
"Regardless, you need to not look up, not straight look up, and not worry about the calls," Kipnis said. "The play wasn't over, obviously. Whether I knew it or not, my first reaction has to be to see a curveball down. I have to see if it got by him."
Given Kipnis' history of being an aggressive baserunner, Francona was understanding about the play.
"I think he felt bad," Francona said. "Again, I understand what happened. Like I said [Saturday] night, he's a hard-nosed player. You've seen him the way he runs to first. He runs to first base like it's his last at-bat, which, as a manager, that's something you're really proud of guys about."