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.
Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw entered Wednesday night’s start against the Marlins without having issued a walk in his previous three starts. In fact, his last walk came on April 3 when he issued a free pass to Paul Goldschmidt with the bases empty and two outs in the bottom of the first inning. All told, Kershaw was on a streak of 26 walk-less innings before he took the mound at home to take on the Marlins.
Kershaw started off Wednesday in character, striking out the side in the first inning. He issued a walk in a tough second inning, but escaped without allowing a run. Kershaw walked two more in the third and again danced out of danger. In the fourth, Kershaw walked Lewis Brinson to load the bases with no outs and — you guessed it — didn’t end up allowing a run. His errant control finally came back to bite him in the fifth when Kershaw issued back-to-back two-out walks, then served up a three-run home run to Miguel Rojas down the left field line. His night was done when he completed the inning. Five innings, three runs, five hits, six walks, seven strikeouts, 112 pitches.
The six walks Kershaw issued over five innings marked his first six-walk outing since April 7, 2010 when he issued six free passes to the Pirates in 4 2/3 innings. The only other time he walked as many was on August 3, 2009 against the Brewers in a four-plus inning outing. Kershaw hasn’t even walked five batters in an outing recently — the last time was September 23, 2012 against the Reds.