Nothing get the bats going like a series against the Pittsburgh Pirates. After a long, nearly month long struggle, the Indians scored 5 runs in each game of the recent three game series against the Pirates, in which they won each game.
This offensive outburst came after the firing of hitting coach Jon Nunnally, who was replaced by Bruce Fields. It is tough to say that the outburst is a direct result of Nunnally’s firing, because the Indians were so hot to start the year, but it is a possibility.
The sweep of the Pirates improved to 6-0 on the season in interleague play, after sweeping the Reds in May. Following the recent series against the Rockies, the Indians are now 7-2 in interleague play on the year, which is still among the best in the MLB.
The runs scored by the Tribe during these last two series’ against the Rockies and Pirates shows how much they have improved over the last month. They scored a total of 29 runs in these six games. It took them 14 games, June 2nd to June 16th, to score 29 runs before the Pirates series began.
The main difference in the last six games is the presence of Travis Hafner. Without even looking at stats, it is just evident that the Indians are a better team when he is in the lineup. He continually drives in runs when he needs to, and maintains an average well above .300.
The other hitters in the lineup also seem to play better when Hafner is in the lineup, specifically Carlos Santana. Hafner’s presence takes pressure off of the other hitters such as Santana to try and do too much.
The Indians will go on a very tough West Coast road trip against the Giants and the D’Backs. The DH will not be in play during this trip, so the Indians will need to find spots to pinch hit Hafner, so he can continue to make his presence felt.