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Tag:Travis HAfner
Posted on: August 19, 2011 1:03 am
 

3 Up, 3 Down: Kershaw fires gem, Trumbo walks off

Kershaw

By Evan Brunell

Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers: All of a sudden, Clayton Kershaw is making the NL Cy Young Award race one to watch, as Roy Halladay may not have as firm a grip on the award as might have otherwise been thought. After pumping six strikeouts past the Brewers in eight innings, the lefty lowered his ERA to 2.60 after yet another scoreless outing. Those six strikeouts inched him to one shy of 200 whiffs on the season. Let's compare Kershaw to Halladay, starting with the youngster first: 15-5 in 183 2/3 IP, 2.60 ERA, 199 K, 46 BB. Halladay has a 15-5 record in 184 2/3 IP with a 2.53 ERA, 177 K and 23 BB. I'd still take Halladay, but it's close enough that this is a race.

Colby Rasmus, Blue Jays: The ex-Cardinal didn't get his tenure in Toronto off to a fast start, but if Thursday is any indication of what he can put together on a regular bases, the Blue Jays will be quite pleased. Rasmus went 3 for 4 with a home run and two RBI, chipping in three runs as Toronto downed Oakland. It was the center fielder's fifth multi-hit game with Toronto, and his first with three hits. His bat must be heating up in the power department, because it's the second straight game he's driven a home run, sending his total from 13 to 15 in two days, and he's totaled eight RBI in his last three games.

Mark Trumbo, Angels: And just like that, the Angels snapped their five-game losing streak, stopped Texas from winning seven straight and closed the AL West deficit to a still-imposing six games. How did that happen? At the hands of Mark Trumbo, who delivered a two-run walk-off home run off of Mike Adams in the bottom of the ninth to turn a dispiriting 1-0 loss into a wild 4-0 victory. This was a game L.A. desperately needed, especially given that the Rangers run had come off of the bat of Mike Napoli with a homer. Trumbo had one other hit in the game, but his OBP is still under .300 for the year.



Phil Humber, White Sox: Phil Humber received a nasty scare on Thursday when a Kosuke Fukudome liner found the area just above his right eye, sending Humber sprawling on the mound. He was able to get up right away, though, and lobbied to stay in the game. The ChiSox weren't having any of it, so the righty left the game having pitched just 1 1/3 innings, giving up three hits, no walks or runs and punching out three. "I told them I was good, I felt like I could still pitch and wanted to be out there," Humber told the Chicago Tribune. "But at the same time, they got a job to do and take every precaution that there wasn’t anything serious going on.”

Travis Hafner, Indians:  After a three-hit game against the Red Sox on Aug. 4, Hafner was enjoying a .300/.386/.491 season. That was a step below his .347/.428/.567 line on July 7, but it was inevitable for Hafner to come back to earth. Well, that three-hit day didn't stave off the decline. While Hafner's still stayed reasonably productive, that line continues to drop, and now after striking out three times in five plate appearances on Thursday when he went hitless with an intentional walk, Hafner is at .288/.368/.461. He also struck out to end the sixth with the bases loaded and two runs already in. The Indians still won the game 4-2, but Hafner could have broke it open.

Trevor Cahill, Athletics: Last season, Trevor Cahill was an All-Star and received Cy Young Award votes. He wasn't named to the All-Star team this season, although that wasn't indicative of a bad season, as his 3.92 ERA was still solid. Well, it was. A seven-run outburst by tje Blue Jays knocked Cahill out of the game after 5 1/3 innings, sending his ERA skittering up to 4.17. Cahill allowed nine hits and two walks, while striking out two. Cahill has been a Jekyll-and-Hyde (mostly Jekyll) pitcher since the beginning of June, with a 5.83 ERA to show for it.

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Posted on: July 11, 2011 12:38 pm
Edited on: July 11, 2011 1:05 pm
 

Verlander fronts AL Central All-Stars

By Matt Snyder

2011 All-Star Game
SEE THE OTHER DIVISION ALL-STARS: AL East | AL West | NL East | NL Central | NL West

The AL Central has been the most upside-down of all divisions in baseball this year, at least according to preseason expectations. Thus, the team doesn't much look like one we'd expect. Let's dive in.

C Alex Avila, Tigers: Very easy choice here, as the AL All-Star starter resides in this division. It's just that if you read that phrase at the start of the season it would have been very obvious we were talking about Joe Mauer. And if Mauer went down with an injury for a while -- as he did -- the next in line would have likely been Carlos Santana. Nope, it's instead Avila. With a .370 on-base percentage, 10 homers and 46 RBI, he's the man. It's been that kind of year in the Central.

1B Miguel Cabrera, Tigers: This was a very tough call over Paul Konerko. The two are so comparable across the board that it's hard to make a distinction. We'll give the nod to Cabrera based upon the 40-point lead in on-base percentage, but this is really a dead-heat. The fans certainly got the AL "Final Vote" right when electing Konerko.

Lineup
No. Name Team Pos
1 Alex Gordon KC LF
2 Asdrubal Cabrera CLE SS
3 Miguel Cabrera DET 1B
4 Carlos Quentin CWS RF
5 Travis Hafner CLE DH
6 Jhonny Peralta DET 3B
7 Melky Cabrera KC CF
8 Alex Avila DET C
9 Gordon Beckham CWS 2B
2B Gordon Beckham, White Sox: This is a choice between the undeserving. Orlando Cabrera, Chris Getz, Alexi Casilla, Ryan Raburn. Yeah, those are the other choices. Beckham has at least shown flashes of being productive and -- at this point in their respective careers -- easily has the most potential. Unfortunately, that's what we have to go on here.

SS Asdrubal Cabrera, Indians: Unlike second base, we're loaded here, with Cabrera, Jhonny Peralta and Alexei Ramirez. Alcides Escobar is a defensive stud, too. Cabrera, though, is hitting .293/.387/.489 with 14 homers, 51 RBI, 55 runs and 12 steals. Ramirez is our runner-up here, because we're doing something else with Peralta ...

3B Jhonny Peralta, Tigers: There was no other choice. I had to cheat and move Peralta back to third. Otherwise we were looking at Danny Valencia, Brent Morel, Mark Teahan, Jack Hannahan or the stuggled yet promising Mike Moustakas. Or some other players who aren't even close to All-Stars at this point, yet have been seeing time at third in this division. So we're using Peralta and his .312 average, 14 homers and 50 RBI.

LF Alex Gordon, Royals: After years of waiting, here is the Alex Gordon many were thinking would show his face in 2007. He's put up good numbers -- 11 homers, 50 runs, 50 RBI, 24 doubles, six steals -- and been a steady force in the lineup for the Royals. Even atop the lineup, which we didn't think we'd see when he arrived on the scene. This was a tough call over Brennan Boesch, but we're giving Gordon the nod.

CF Melky Cabrera, Royals: Grady Sizemore missed a lot of games due to injury, Austin Jackson has taken a step backward, Denard Span has missed a lot of games and Alex Rios has been awful. Who's that leave? Yep, Cabrera. Apparently it's the best last name to sport in this division, as 33 percent of the starting lineup has it. Melky has hit for average, hit for power, run well and been a leader for the young Royals. It's shocking to say it, but he's the easy choice here (again, it's backwards).

RF Carlos Quentin, White Sox: Once again, Boesch gets passed over. Quentin has 17 home runs, 51 RBI, a solid OBP due to walks and hit-by-pitches and plays solid defense in right for the White Sox. Plus, Konerko and Quentin have had to pick up some serious slack in the power department with the disappearance of Rios and Adam Dunn. This is actually a pretty loaded position, too, with Jeff Francoeur having a good year, Shin-Soo Choo's talent (when healthy), Michael Cuddyer and Boesch.

DH Travis Hafner, Indians: Sure, he's missed a small chunk of games, but Pronk has shown much more power than Victor Martinez, and that's what we want in a DH. Hafner has eight home runs and a .528 slugging percentage in 51 games, while Martinez has only hit six homers in 77 games with a .457 slugging percentage. Billy Butler also gets squeezed out here with having a bit less power than Martinez.

SP Justin Verlander, Tigers: Guys like Justin Masterson and Scott Baker are having pretty good seasons, but there's really no reason to even expand on the discussion. Verlander is starting to come up with Roy Halladay in the best-pitcher-in-baseball discussions.

RP Al Alburquerque, Tigers: The rookie has been a Godsend for the Tigers' bullpen, as he's taken over the setup role Joel Zumaya can never stay healthy enough to hold down. Plus, big-money free agent signee Joaquin Benoit faltered early in the season. Alburquerque stepped up and struck out 47 hitters in just 29 innings. Rafael Perez is the runner-up here, but Alburquerque gets the nod.

CL Chris Perez, Indians: Too bad Joakim Soria wasn't quite himself early in the season, because this could have been easy. Instead, we've got a three-way race with no right answer. No matter how many ways you look at Chris Perez, Sergio Santos and Jose Valverde, there's no real way to argue and ironclad case as one man emerging as the absolute best of the three. We'll go with Perez, but it's a coin-flip.

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Posted on: July 8, 2011 1:03 am
 

3 Up, 3 Down: Walk-off Grand Slam for Pronk



By Matt Snyder


Travis Hafner, Indians. We could concentrate on the colossal meltdown by the Blue Jays to lose after having a 4-0 lead entering the ninth, but let's instead focus on the man with the big blow, because you don't often see a walk-off grand slam. That's exactly what Travis Hafner did in front of the Cleveland fans who stuck around for the ninth Thursday. (Click here to watch the highlight on MLB.com). The Blue Jays only recorded a single out, allowing a single, double, walk and single before Hafner's bomb. The Indians appear to be somewhat back on track and have a 1-1/2 game lead in the AL Central.

Brad Hand/Jack McKeon, Marlins. Hand, a 21-year-old rookie, picked up his first major-league victory Thursday in a spot-start for the Marlins. He threw seven shutout innings and allowed just two hits. Sure it was against the Astros, but it still counts -- and the hitters are definitely better than Hand had been seeing in Triple-A. As for the McKeon inclusion here, he sent Hand out to warm up for the eighth inning and removed Hand before the inning started. Why? So the home fans could give the kid a standing ovation (Joe Capozzi via Twitter). Great move by the wily veteran McKeon. And don't look now, but the Marlins have won six of their last nine. Two of those three losses were to the Phillies, too.

Barry Zito, Giants. Alright, who took us back to 2002 in the time machine? I always knew Doc Brown was onto something with that flux capacitor. Zito was 40-57 with a 4.45 ERA and 1.41 WHIP in his first four years for the Giants after signing a gargantuan contract. After a brutal start to the 2011 season, most Giants fans were wondering what they had to do to be freed from this albatross. But, wait. Time circuits on ... Zito is 3-0 with a 1.29 ERA and 0.81 WHIP in three starts since returning from the disabled list. He was masterful Thursday night, striking out seven and walking zero. The only real blemish was a solo home run off the bat of Ryan Ludwick in the seventh. Zito's eight innings also allowed the Giants to rest the bullpen, other than one inning from closer Brian Wilson, after a 14-inning marathon Wednesday. If Zito keeps throwing like this, that's a pretty scary rotation for the defending champs.



White Sox vs. Twins. This is absolute ownership. After the Twins beat the White Sox 6-2 Thursday night, it ran the White Sox's record against Minnesota to 0-5 this season. That's not near the worst part. The White Sox have lost eight straight to the Twins. And that's not really the worst part either. In the last 36 games between the two, the White Sox have won just seven (LaVelle Neal via Twitter).

Nationals after the fourth inning. This just can't happen. The Nationals were leading the Cubs -- the team with the second-worst record in all of baseball -- 8-0 through four innings. That's gotta be the game. No discussion. Instead, the Nationals let the Cubs storm back and take a 9-8 lead in the eighth. Worse yet, the Nats tied it back up in the bottom of the eighth, only to see Henry Rodriguez allow a run. Then, in the bottom of the ninth, the Nationals had the tying run on third with one out and couldn't score him. Still, nearly all the blame has to go on the pitchers. Livan Hernandez allowed six runs in the sixth while Rodriguez, Sean Burnett and Todd Coffey combined to allow four runs in 3 1/3 innings.

Pedro Viola, Orioles. The Orioles as a whole are in a bad, bad place right now. They've gone 6-18 since pulling to within one game of .500 and Thursday night allowed 10 runs, 13 hits, six home runs and five walks to the Red Sox. But poor Viola, man, what a bad night. He faced just four batters. He walked one. The other three hit home runs.

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Posted on: June 23, 2011 4:50 pm
Edited on: June 23, 2011 5:29 pm
 

Hafner only to pinch hit in NL parks

Travis Hafner

By C. Trent Rosecrans

So far this season, the Indians are a different team with designated hitter Travis Hafner in the lineup and getting four or five plate appearances a night. In the next week, we'll see how they are with Hafner making just one plate appearance per game.

Manager Manny Acta told MLB.com on Wednesday that Hafner will strictly serve as a pinch hitter during the team's nine-game tour of the National League.

Hafner went on the disabled list with a strained oblique, which he suffered May 18 during batting practice in Chicago. After his last game May 17, the Indians were 26-13 and led the American League Central by five games. When he was activated a month later, the Indians were 36-31, a game behind the Tigers.

Since June 17, the Indians are 4-2, and Hafner is hitting .294/.429/.706 with two homers and seven RBI in five games.

He has been used as a pinch hitter twice this season, walking once and striking out once.

Hafner hasn't used a fielding glove in a game since 2007, when he played 11 games at first base. In his career, he's started just 68 games in the field, 40 of those coming in his first season with the Indians (2003).

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Posted on: May 20, 2011 12:29 pm
 

Pepper: Scorching Hafner could hit DL



By Evan Brunell


HAFNER HURT: Indians DH Travis Hafner is hitting like it's 2006, as the oft-injured DH is roaring along at a .345/.409/.549 clip with eight doubles and five home runs in 127 plate appearances.

Sure, that average is over his head, but he's still geared up to have a quality season. It's about time, as Hafner has been one of the game's most overpaid players as he succumbed to injuries following his four-year, $57 million deal signed during the 2007 season. He's been a major reason why Cleveland finds itself in first place, and has helped fend off any type of decline that could have happened once Grady Sizemore hit the disabled list.

Unfortunately, Hafner may be joining Sizemore on the DL with a sore oblique. He was taking swings in the batting cage prior to Wednesday's game when one swing left him unable to swing any more. After being a late scratch, Hafner plans to get the injury checked out Friday with a MRI.

"One of the big things was how it felt [Thursday] morning," said Hafner. "It wasn't worse. That's kind of encouraging."

Obliques are the scourge of baseball these days, and unfortunately for Hafner, he's probably going to have to go on the DL and could be out for a month or more. (Cleveland Plain Dealer)

LEYLAND'S BACK
: Jim Leyland still lives in Pittsburgh, but he hasn't been back in the stadium as an opposing manager since 2006, his first year with the Tigers. Leyland, of course, is well known for his 11 years managing the Pirates in the glory days, back when Barry Bonds was manning left field. (MLive.com)

RJM:
A nice story about Ricky Romero and J.P. Arencibia's night on Thursday. Romero went seven strong while J.P. Arencibia crushed a home run that eventually gave the team a 3-1 victory. Both players were reeling from the passing of a two-year-old fan after a battle with leukemia. (Toronto Star)

UNPRECEDENTED:
Jose Bautista's leap from last man on the bench to the best hitter in the game is still tough to wrap one's head around. But it's not the last time such a leap has been made. The closest comparable? Seattle's Bret Boone, who jumped in relevancy from 1999-2001. Of course, the likelihood that Boone used steroids is high, but unless you're really reaching or just hate Bautista/the Blue Jays, the same questions are not there for Bautista. (Fangraphs)

TURNING THE CLOCK BACK:
It's always entertaining to see players wear throwback uniforms. Sometimes these uniforms are preferable to the current set... sometimes they're nice memories or a way of learning more about history. Sometimes, they make us burst out laughing. History's being profiled Saturday when the Red Sox and Cubs wear 1918-era uniforms. (Boston Globe) Here's a look at what you can expect -- the 1918 uniforms of the BoSox and the 1918 road uniforms for the Cubs. And yes, no logo for the Red Sox.

FLIPPING THE BIRD
: Sometimes I wonder if we take ourselves a little too seriously. Andre Ethier, who was slightly irritated with a photographer prior to Monday's game, flipped him the bird before adding the other hand to the equation. Ethier joked about the situation before Thursday's game before issuing a standard mea culpa. "I wasn’t [angry] at all. If you’re going to stand there and take the same picture for 15 minutes, what’s the difference between the first and the 15th minute? It just got kind of annoying. I guess I slipped up, and that temper you guys sometimes like to write about, got ahead of me and I didn’t use my head and use the best judgment in that situation. I made a mistake of it and it’s unfortunate." Don't we have better things to worry about? (Los Angeles Times)

DISLIKED:
Are the Cardinals the most disliked team in baseball? Let's look at the evidence. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

WHERE'S ALLIE?
When talking about Pittsburgh Pirates pitching prospects (try saying that four times in a row), the conversation invariably turns to Jameson Taillon and Stetson Allie. Except that Allie is nowhere to be found on the stats pages. That's because he's been at extended spring training, working on his windup and a lack of control. Things have progressed to the point where he is nearing game action. (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

LIND ETA:
Adam Lind won't be back with the Blue Jays for at least 10 days and is still a week away from baseball action in his recovery from a sore back. (Sportsnet via Twitter)

WHO'S OUT IN BALTIMORE? When Alfredo Simon returns to the Orioles' bullpen on Sunday, someone's gotta go. Bet on one of Brad Bergesen or Chris Tillman, as Jeff Zrebiec writes. Both -- especially Bergesen -- have been very poor in the rotation and the team can go with four starters for several days because of Brian Matusz's looming return late next week. (Baltimore Sun)

JOHN SMOLTZ RULE: John Smoltz effected a rule change in minor-league baseball while on a rehab assignment with the Red Sox in 2009. Now, major-league pitchers on rehab starts down on the farm can use major-league baseballs in games. (MLBlogs.com)

TWITTER CLOSED: Tony Sanchez closed his Twitter account amid what we thought were the Pirates being too sensitive about players going on Twitter and expressing a personality. However, Sanchez closed his account on his own (although a stern talking-to from the brass didn't help). Sanchez was benched three games for criticizing umpires. (Pittsburgh Tribune-Review)

GOLD: A pretty neat promotion the Angels are putting on in which fans will get an autographed baseball from a player. Those lucky enough to end up with a gold baseball will then get to meet that player and get four tickets to another Angels game. (Orange County Register)

DL-BOUND: Joe Blanton is returning to the DL and will take Shane Victorino with him. The Flyin' Hawaiian has been hobbled the last few days and now the Phillies have decided they can't wait for him to heal much longer. Don't expect Domonic Brown's promotion, as GM Ruben Amaro continues to hold Brown back. (Wonder if it has to do with service time?) Anyways, expect either Delwyn Young or Ronnie Belliard to get the spot. (CSNPhilly.com)

NO MORE TOBACCO: The call to ban all types of tobacco in baseball only got stronger with the Diamondbacks' CEO Ken Kendrick calling for such a ban. (Arizona Republic)

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Posted on: May 16, 2011 9:54 pm
Edited on: May 16, 2011 10:06 pm
 

Indians tag Mazzaro with 10-run inning

By Matt Snyder

Needless to say, Monday night was a rough one for Royals pitcher Vin Mazzaro. First of all, he wasn't even supposed to pitch. He was slated to start Tuesday, but an early injury to starter Kyle Davies forced Mazzaro into relief duty.

What followed was sheer catastrophe.

Eight hits. Two walks. Ten earned runs. All of this happened in the fourth inning.

The Cleveland Indians were the perpetrators. There wasn't just one big blow, there were actually three. Travis Hafner had a bases-loaded, three-RBI double to break the game wide open. A few batters later, Matt LaPorta doubled in two. Two batters later, Michael Brantley -- who had already walked and scored in the inning -- clubbed a three-run home run.

Here's the play-by-play: Single, fielder's choice, walk, single, fly out, walk, double, single, single, double, single, home run, strikeout.

Shin-Soo Choo was the only member of the Indians' lineup who failed to reach base -- and the eight others all also scored at least one run. Brantley and Jack Hannahan crossed home plate twice.

Mazzaro's final line was an even worse nightmare. He went 2 1/3 innings and allowed 14 earned runs, making him the third pitcher since 1947 to allow 14 earned runs since 1947 and the first since 1998. (via Joe Posnanski Twitter)

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Posted on: April 30, 2011 4:11 pm
 

Hafner in boot with strained tendon in foot

By Evan Brunell

HafnerThere were many shocked faces upon Travis Hafner's arrival for Cleveland's team picture Saturday.

Hafner showed up with a walking boot on his right foot after missing three games with a sore right ankle. That sore ankle has now turned into a strained tendon on the surface of his right foot, as Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com reports. He won't hit the DL just yet, as he will be re-evaluated on Monday before a final decision is made.

The slugger hasn't been the Pronk of old since he was one of the game's elite sluggers from 2004-07, constantly missing time with injury. He's been hot this year, though, hitting an unsustainable .342 but following through with five doubles and four homers, giving Indian fans hope he has one more dominant year left in him. He signed a massive (for Cleveland) four-year, $57 million pact that kicked in for the 2009 season that has held the team back financially, but it finally expires after next season.

At this point, the team will be happy with any production Hafner can give as they wait out his deal. Cleveland had to be thrilled with what he's done so far, but that's -- yet again -- being threatened by the specter of injury.

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Category: MLB
Posted on: April 17, 2011 7:29 pm
 

Uehara's streak stopped

Koji UeharaBy C. Trent Rosecrans

Before a full-count pitch to Shin-Soo Choo with one out in the eighth inning on Sunday, Orioles reliever Koji Uehara had gone 36 appearances without a walk.

That pitch -- much to the chagrin of Uehara and manager Buck Showalter -- was called a ball, ending the third-longest streak in baseball history behind Dennis Eckersley (41 games from 1989-1990) and John Smoltz (38 games from 2003-2004). 

"I'm not so sure it was a walk, either," Showalter said of the pitch called a ball by home plate umpire Ed Hickox, via the Baltimore Sun.

Uehara, through his interpreter, told reporters, "I think it wasn't going well with the umpires today."

After going 36 appearances without a walk, Uehara walked Travis Hafner after striking out Carlos Santana. His last walk before today was July 16, 2010, to Fred Lewis, then with the Blue Jays.

Uehara needed 29 pitches to get through the inning in which he also struck out two batters, but had needed just 33 pitches to get through the first 4 2/3 innings he'd thrown this season. Still, he said he'll be ready to pitch on Monday. He's allowed just one hit and no runs in five appearances this season.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com