Indians 6, Orioles 1 (box)
Activated from the 60-day disabled list, Travis Hafner started last night; his first game in the lineup since the end of May. Apparently suffering from a barrage of injuries that were then undisclosed, Hafner finished up a series against the Rangers, going 2-for-9, ultimately hitting the DL with splits of .217/.326/.350. When your multi-multi-million dollar designated hitter has an OPS under .700, you have yourself quite a problem.
Now, it is time for redemption. With the season lost, Hafner has exactly 19 games in which he can start to prove that he is worth the money and even a roster spot after a complete fall-off from his MVP-like numbers of 2006. And while he didn’t leave the yard last night, he did put up a respectable appearance by notching two hits and a walk in a solid win over the Orioles.
If you want to jump into the wayback machine, Hafner had not recorded a multi-hit game since May 13th. In fact, he only has eight multi-hit games on the season. For a bit of comparison, Jhonny Peralta (who did hold his clean-up spot) had nine multi-hit games in the month of August alone.
Travis was in good company last night, as he led the way for three other Indians on the two-hit parade: Kelly Shoppach (two doubles, two runs scored), Michael Aubrey, and Andy Marte.
And since the start of September, Asdrubal Cabrera has managed to get at least one hit in every game but one. He’s hitting .520/.533/.640 in a very small sample of games, but what is most intriguing is the fact that he has only managed to strike out twice (while walking three times) in 25 at-bats. I am not as allured by his obviously inflated OPS as I am by the fact that he appears to finally be settling in at the plate. He has a chance to get his average to .250 by the end of the season thanks to a great second half, and while he still hits lefties way better than righties, at least he is finally hitting – racking up another 1-for-3 night last night, with a run scored.
And of course, we have to mention Jeremy Sowers notching his third win of the year. Eight innings of one-run ball, striking out seven and walking only one. Sowers tossed 72 of 96 pitches for strikes – and yes, he threw eight innings of baseball in less than 100 pitches. With the help of 12 groundouts as well, Sowers was electric as he and Hafner partied like it was 2006 all over again.
Now we just need them to keep it going…