Jason Kipnis’ dream performance turns into a Game 4 nightmare for the Cubs

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CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 29: Jason Kipnis #22 of the Cleveland Indians hits a home run in the seventh inning against the Chicago Cubs in Game Four of the 2016 World Series at Wrigley Field on October 29, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

CHICAGO – Jason and “The Babe.”

This comparison caught one professional baseball player caught off guard on Saturday night.

It came during the Fox Sports postgame interview with Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis. He was told by reporter Ken Rosenthal that he became the first opposing player to hit a three-run homer in the World Series since Babe Ruth did so in 1932 with the New York Yankees.

In shock, Kipnis stepped away from Rosenthal for just a second, with a bit of a laugh as he put his jersey to his face.

“What does that mean to you?” asked Rosenthal after informing Kipnis of the trivia.

“Everything,” said Kipnis. “That’s amazing.”

For the Northbrook native, it certainly is. A series that began with the second baseman hobbling with a sprained ankle after the celebration of an American League pennant now has this Chicago-area native one of the heroes of a dream season for the Indians.

In a breakout game for the second baseman in the World Series, Kipnis went 3-of-5 and scored a pair of runs in Game 4 Saturday night at Wrigley Field. The aforementioned three-run homer put him in the class of “The Babe” and gave him his first three RBI’s of the Fall Classic.

In the process he left his childhood team reeling as the seventh-inning shot into the right field stands was the highlight of a 7-2 Indians victory that gives them a commanding 3-1 lead in the series.

“Probably can’t say the words that were going into my mind,” said Kipnis of when he watched the hit of Travis Wood sail into the bleachers. “Kids are watching this channel, but it’s just excitement. I had a lot of joy in playing this game, and to be put into a situation like this and actually have something happen like that is, for lack of a better term, it’s a dream come true, like they say.

“To have my family in the stands, friends in the stands.”

They didn’t have a lot to cheer for in Game 3 or the rest of the series when Kipnis went 2-for-12 to begin the series. He got an infield hit in his first at-bat at Wrigley Field on Friday but did little for the rest of the contest as the Indians pulled out a 1-0 victory.

But Saturday his family from Northbrook and those from Glenbrook North High School, his alma mater, had plenty to cheer for after a first inning strikeout. In the third Kipnis smacked a double to right and scored on a single by Francisco Lindor to put the Indians up 3-0.

Kipnis then put the game away in the seventh when he hit the opposite field shot to right to make the lead 7-1. In the ninth he capped off his evening with a single to give him three hits in a game for just the second time in the playoffs. A good performance only adds to what has been a dream World Series for the second baseman who’s gotten the chance to play on the biggest stage miles from home.

“It’s been all positive. I got to have dinner with my family the first night we got in. And all of it has just been positive reinforcement from people,” said Kipnis. “Just go out, have fun. Enjoy yourself. Take it in. They’re all like, “This is something special, so appreciate it. Don’t put too much pressure on it and stuff.”

If only the Cubs and their fans could share their attitude. What looked like a dream weekend at Wrigley Field has quickly turned into a nightmare with elimination landing on their doorstep.

While Kipnis found his offense this weekend the Cubs have not. After getting shutout on Friday night the Cubs responded with just two runs on Saturday, unable to find offensive rhythm even after scoring in the first inning. On top of that, the team uncharacteristically had a pair of errors in the field, further adding to a forgettable weekend that suddenly has the Cubs on the brink for the first time in the playoffs.

“It’s just a matter of us gaining offensive confidence,” said Maddon. “That’s what we need right now. More than anything, when you’re not hitting like that, the whole vibe’s very difficult to push in that real positive direction.”

Not for one guy on the other side, who had a Ruth moment in his special Saturday homecoming.