Designated hitter Travis Hafner was a late scratch from the Indians' starting lineup Wednesday night, and it was probably no coincidence that the Indians were then shut out for just the second time this season.
Before the 1-0 loss to the White Sox, the Indians were averaging 5.3 runs scored per game, the best in the American League.
Hafner has been a key component of that offense, but he was not in the lineup due to soreness on right rib-cage. Manager Manny Acta said Hafner would be re-evaluated Thursday. Hafner was plagued by right shoulder weakness in each of the last three years, and his statistics suffered because of it.
He came into this season healthy, and he has been the Indians' most consistent hitter all season. He is hitting .345 with five home runs and 22 RBI. At the start of play Wednesday, Hafner was third in the American League in hitting, fourth in on-base percentage (.409) and sixth in slugging percentage (.549).
Perhaps most important of all, Hafner has been the Indians' best clutch hitter. He is hitting .483 with runners in scoring position. That was a lot of production missing from the middle of the lineup, and the Indians managed just three hits, all singles, in White Sox right-hander Jake Peavy's shutout.
Shelley Duncan replaced Hafner as the designated hitter, although Duncan hit seventh in the lineup, which is two spots lower than Hafner's customary spot. Outfielder Travis Buck, who normally hits seventh, was moved into the fifth spot. Both went 0-for-3.
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