Kipper Solid as Dogs Dominate RedHawks, 7-3
By Jack Ankony, The Chicago Dogs
When Jordan Kipper faced the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks on May 26, he allowed seven earned runs. But it was a completely different story on Wednesday night against the RedHawks thanks to a new pitch he developed over the offseason.
Kipper trained with former MLB pitcher David Aardsma to develop a slider, which has now become his wipeout pitch. After throwing a complete game with 11 strikeouts on June 11 against Milwaukee, Kipper continued his dominance on Wednesday in the Dogs 7-3 win over the Fargo-Moorhead Redhawks, and his slider was a big reason why.
“I have thrown a slider before, but it’s never been really a weapon for me,” Kipper said.
Kipper tossed 7.2 innings while allowing nine hits, three earned runs, one walk and seven strikeouts. Two of the RedHawks’ runs came from a second-inning Jordan George home run, but aside from that, Kipper was in full control on Wiener Wednesday at Impact Field.
The key to Kipper’s success over the last two starts has been avoiding predictability in pitch selection. Before Wednesday’s game, Kipper and Dogs catcher Ryan Lidge emphasized keeping his sinker down in the zone, while mixing in changeups and sliders.
This strategy was especially effective on Wednesday night when facing one of the American Association’s best hitters in Correlle Prime. Prime entered the game hitting 9-for-14 against the Dogs in 2021, but Kipper and Scott Firth held him to an 0-for-4 night.
“I think you just have to mix it up with [Prime],” Kipper said. “Try to keep him on his toes and don’t get into patterns.”
Kipper struck out Prime in the first inning on Wednesday with his new slider. Kipper credits innovative baseball technologies such as Rapsodo and TrackMan for the newfound success in his slider. This technology has enabled Kipper to determine the best shape to his slider in order to be the most efficient and effective.
With the help of Aardsma, Kipper also found a new slider grip, which has improved the sharp, late-breaking action in the pitch. But while Kipper has changed the way he throws his slider, he credits part of his recent success to simply remembering who he is as a pitcher.
Kipper did not get off to the best start of the 2021 season after giving up seven runs at Fargo-Moorhead and six runs against the Winnipeg Goldeyes on May 31. But since then, Kipper’s focus has been on getting back to what has worked in previous seasons.
“Really just trusting my stuff and getting back to who I am,” Kipper said. “Not trying to do too much, not trying to strike guys out, just knowing who I am as a pitcher and going out and executing.”
Kipper’s ability to quiet the RedHawks’ bats on Wednesday allowed the Dogs to jump out to an early lead. K.C. Hobson blasted an RBI double off the wall to score Michael Crouse in the first inning and later came in to score on a wild pitch.
Harrison Smith’s home run in the second inning gave the Dogs a 3-2 lead, and Lidge sealed the deal with a two-RBI single in the seventh inning to extend his hit streak to 13 games. The Dogs have now won two games in a row against Fargo-Moorhead and cling to a one-game lead over the Milwaukee Milkmen for first place in the North Division.
Moving forward, Kipper said his focus now shifts to what he can do in the next four days to prepare for his next outing. Kipper and the Dogs are building confidence as they have now won eight of their last 10 games and look to sweep the RedHawks on Thursday.
“It’s always nice to throw well,” Kipper said. “But I don’t really try to think much about my last game or tonight, just kind of move forward and keep preparing.”