Hafner won't play the field on nine-game NL road trip

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Indians designated hitter Travis Hafner hasn’t played first base since 2007 and that’s not likely to change anytime soon.  According to John Barone of MLB.com, the one they call “Pronk” will be limited to pinch-hitting duties during the Tribe’s upcoming nine-game interleague road trip.

The expedition through National League ballparks begins Friday, when the Indians open a three-game series against the Pirates.  The club will travel from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia for a three-game set, then it’s off to Cincinnati to wrap things up.  Hafner may get around nine at-bats over that span, if he’s lucky.

“It wouldn’t be fair to him,” manager Manny Acta said on the topic of Hafner possibly playing the field. “What are we going to do? Hit
him one million grounders today so he’ll be ready tomorrow? He doesn’t
get defensive work.”

Hafner entered Thursday hitting .258/.372/.438 with eight home runs and 26 RBI over 194 at-bats.  He’s 9-for-24 with two doubles, four homers and eight RBI over his past eight games.  A prolonged hot streak will have to wait.

Albert Pujols hit his 597th career home run

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Angels DH Albert Pujols smacked his 597th career home run, a two-run shot in the top of the first inning during Wednesday night’s 5-2 loss to the Rays. The blast was off of Erasmo Ramirez and marked No. 6 on the season for the future Hall of Famer.

Pujols finished 1-for-3 with the homer and a walk. After Wednesday’s game, he’s hitting a lackluster .244/.296/.378 with 34 RBI and 14 runs scored in 186 trips to the plate.

Pujols currently ranks ninth on baseball’s all-time leaderboard and is three shy of joining the 600-homer club. He’s currently 13 home runs away from tying Sammy Sosa for eighth all-time.

Chris Sale’s streak of starts with at least 10 strikeouts ends

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Red Sox starter Chris Sale entered Wednesday’s outing against the Rangers with at least 10 strikeouts in eight consecutive starts, tying a record he already shared with Pedro Martinez. He failed do break the record, racking up only six strikeouts in 7 1/3 innings. Fortunately, the Red Sox scored seven runs in the bottom of the seventh to put him in line for the win. Sale gave up four runs (three earned) on six hits and a walk.

After Wednesday’s outing, Sale is sitting on a 2.34 ERA with a 101/14 K/BB ratio in 73 innings. So far, so good for the Red Sox, who acquired Sale from the White Sox in December.

Sale previously racked up 10 strikeouts in eight consecutive games between May 23 and June 30 in 2015 with the White Sox. Pedro Martinez accomplished the feat for the Red Sox between August 19 and September 27 in 1999.