Hafner's Return Propels Tribe Back Atop the Central

After falling to second in the AL Central, the Indians easily regained the lead in the division with a 5-1 win over the Pirates on Friday night. Travis Hafner returned and made his prescence felt.

The Indians were 10-18 since Hafner went to the DL on May 18th, but are now 1-0 after his return. He went 1-3 with a walk and an RBI double, which was mere inches away from being a 3 run home run. He is currently the only Indians hitter with an average above .300, at .345, with Asdrubal Cabrera being the next closest at .298.

Not only did Hafner impact the outcome on Friday, but Carlos Santana had a rare 3-4 night. He had 2 RBI with a solo home run in the fourth. He is only hitting .225 on the year, and Manny Acta cannot seem to find the right spot in the lineup for him. He hit sixth last night, and with Hafner back in the lineup, sixth might be the right spot for Santana.

The offense, led by Santana and Hafner, put up 5 runs which was plenty for Josh Tomlin and the bullpen. Tomlin went 6 2/3 only allowing 1 run. The bullpen, Vinnie Pestano and Tony Sipp, allowed zero hits in the remaining 2 1/3 of the game.

The pitching staff just needs a lead, and they can close out games. As long as the offense can continue to put up at least three or four runs a game, the pitching staff usually can find a way to hold that lead.

A bad part of the mostly great game came in the third inning. Matt LaPorta was on second when Orlando Cabrera hit a ground ball to the shortstop. Matt LaPorta tried to advance to third, which was a poor choice, and got caught up in a rundown. He tried to change direction and went down in a heap. The team is calling it an ankle sprain, but there is no word yet on the severity of the injury.

With LaPorta being hurt, this opens up many possibilities at first base. Carlos Santana will likely play many games there, with Lou Marson behind the plate. Other options include calling up Shelley Duncan or even Nick Johnson. Johnson was signed in the offseason after undergoing wrist surgery. There is also a chance that LaPorta is not seriously injured, and might not even go on the DL.

The Indians are percentage points ahead of the Tigers in the Central, and a great outing by Carlos Carrasco will help them get back to their winning ways of earlier this season.

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Tags: Josh Tomlin Matt LaPorta Nick Johnson Travis Hafner

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