Not only is Travis Hafner hitting .319 with a 1.120 OPS for the Yankees, he’s turned back to the clock to when he was a bunting, base-stealing machine. Well, actually he’s never been either of those things. Until yesterday, that is.
Hafner stole second base without a throw, which was his first steal since 2010 and just his fifth steal since 2005. He also tried to bunt for a single with two outs in the ninth inning and the Yankees down 8-4, with the idea being getting on base via any means necessary by beating the Blue Jays’ shift.
Instead he bunted the ball back to the mound and Darren Oliver threw him out at first base to end the game.
Andy McCullough of the Newark Star Ledger asked Hafner to recall the last time he tried to bunt for a hit and the 36-year-old designated hitter could think of just one instance:
I tried it one time, maybe like three or four years ago. We were down a couple in the last inning, and they threw a ball, so I pulled it back. Then [the coaches] took [the sign] off.
Sure enough, Fan Graphs shows that yesterday was the first time in 12 seasons and 1,116 games that Hafner actually got a bunt down.
You may recall that, back in May, Rangers second baseman Rougned Odor got into a fight with Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista. Bautista slid late into second base, with which Odor took issue, so he punched Bautista in the face. That earned him a seven-game suspension.
With one out in the fifth inning of Thursday’s game against the Indians, Odor reached on a fielding error by first baseman Mike Napoli. Jonathan Lucroy then hit into an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play. Odor slid hard into Jason Kipnis covering second base.
Kipnis, hearkening back to the Bautista fight, backed up as if he were afraid Odor would punch him. Odor got a good chuckle out of it, but it was the Rangers’ bench which perhaps enjoyed the joke most. The Rangers’ broadcast showing Adrian Beltre cracking up and telling his other teammates what had happened.
Rangers outfielder Carlos Gomez made his debut with his new team on Thursday night after a brief stint with Triple-A Round Rock. He started in left field and was inserted into the number eight spot in the Rangers’ batting order.
The Rangers made two quick outs in the bottom of the second inning, with Adrian Beltre grounding out and Rougned Odor striking out. But the inning was kept alive as Jonathan Lucroy singled and advanced to second base on a wild pitch, and then Mitch Moreland walked to bring up Gomez.
Gomez took a first-pitch cutter from Josh Tomlin for a ball, then jumped on another cut fastball, drilling it for a no-doubt three-run home run into the seats in left field at Globe Life Park in Arlington (#29 out of 30 in Craig’s ballpark name rankings).
Here’s the video.