Travis Hafner nearing possible weekend return from DL

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Injuries have played a big part in the Indians losing 14 of 19 games to see their AL Central lead vanish, but it sounds like they’ll have Travis Hafner back in the lineup soon.

Jordan Bastian of MLB.com reports that Hafner took batting practice yesterday and is scheduled to begin a minor-league rehab assignment today at Double-A, putting him on track to return from the disabled list as soon as this weekend.

Hafner has been out since mid-May with a strained oblique and hit .345 with five homers and a .958 OPS in 32 games prior to the injury. Bastian notes that the Indians are 8-16 without him in the lineup and have hit just .224 with 3.2 runs per game during that time while starting six different players in the designated hitter spot.

Aaron Judge set a new postseason strikeout record

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For a few days, it looked like Aaron Judge was finally hitting his stride in the postseason. He was still striking out at a regular clip, piling more and more strikeouts atop the 16 he racked up in the Division Series, but he was mashing, too. He engineered a three-run homer during Game 3 of the Championship Series, followed by another blast and game-tying double in Game 4. His one-out double helped pad a five-run lead in Game 5, while his 425-footer off of Brad Peacock barely made a dent during a 7-1 loss in Game 6. And then Lance McCullers‘ curveball found and fooled him, as it did five of the 14 batters it met in Game 7:

The strikeout was Judge’s first of the evening and 27th since the start of the playoffs. No other major league batter has racked up that many strikeouts in a single postseason, though Alfonso Soriano’s 26-strikeout record in 2003 comes the closest. Within that record, Judge also collected three golden sombreros (four strikeouts in a single game), narrowly avoiding the dreaded platinum sombrero (five strikeouts in a single game).

It’s an unfortunate footnote to a spectacular year for the rookie outfielder, who decimated the competition with 52 home runs and 8.2 fWAR during the regular season and was a pivotal part of the Yankees’ playoff run. Thankfully, the image of McCullers’ curveball darting just under Judge’s bat won’t be the image that sticks with us for years to come. Instead, it’ll look something like this: