The Cleveland Indians were comfortable with their defensive alignment in the dog days of the regular season. But they needed to find a way to incorporate Jason Kipnis' bat back into the lineup for the postseason. So manager Terry Francona agreed to an experiment that put the lifelong second baseman in an unfamiliar position: center field. That experiment faced a major test during Game 1 of the American League Division Series on Thursday evening. Kipnis passed that test with flying colors - literally.

Kipnis makes sensational catch

In the top of the third inning, Indians pitcher Trevor Bauer gave up one of the hardest hit balls of his evening.

New York Yankees third baseman Chase Headley smoked a pitch to left center field, where it seemed destined to fall into the gap and perhaps bounce to the wall for a double or even triple. Kipnis had other plans, however, extending into a full dive to make one of the best catches October will bring this season.

That's a catch few center fielders in all of the baseball would be able to make. Maybe Byron Buxton of the Minnesota Twins could do it, but he won't have the chance again this season after the Yankees eliminated his team in the AL Wild Card Game. Instead, Kipnis made the spectacular catch that kept the Yankees from securing their first hit of the game.

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Turns out, the Indians don't need Bradley Zimmer patrolling center field to survive on defense.

Another star is born in Cleveland

Kipnis arguably made the play of the night, but most people already knew he was a special baseball player. The average baseball fan may not have known as much about Indians Game 1 starter Trevor Bauer, who earned the role over ace Corey Kluber. Before Thursday, people may only associate him as a top pick who lost the faith of the Arizona Diamondbacks organization, or as the pitcher who messed up a previous rotation due to a drone injury.

On Thursday, it was all about his play on the field. He didn't give up a hit or a walk for the longest time. It took more than five innings for the Yankees to put their first runner on base. The bullpen helped stymie New York for the rest of the night, leading to zero runs and just three hits in a 4-0 Cleveland victory.

Kipnis and the Indians won't have much time to soak in the first win in their quest to take home the World Series. Game 2 takes place late on Friday afternoon, with Kluber taking the mound against CC Sabathia at Progressive Field.