CLEVELAND -- Off the bat, Travis Hafner was thinking double. The Tribe's designated hitter is not the most fleet of foot, so he rarely thinks about getting a triple.
But when the ball hit off the wall and rolled away from the Tigers outfielders on Tuesday night, Hafner decided to take a risk. He took a hard turn around second, and rumbled into third with a head-first slide. Hafner's triple eventually led to the game-winning run in the Indians' 3-2 victory. It was his second three-bagger of the year after going without one from 2008-11.
"I was running hard," Hafner said, laughing, "and I just wanted to make sure it kept going, and kept going, and kept going so I could try to get there."
For one of the few times since he returned from the disabled list on July 4, Hafner's surgically repaired knee was feeling good. Running was the most difficult part of Hafner's recovery, and Indians manager Manny Acta still gives him an occasional day off the rest the knee.
"Before the game, I was running and my knee felt really good," Hafner said. "I was like, 'If I have to run hard on it, I feel really comfortable doing it now.' I was pretty happy about that. It feels pretty good now."
Hafner said his knee was a little sore on Wednesday afternoon, but he said the pain wasn't significant. He expects the soreness to come and go as he continues to recover.
As soon as Hafner got up and dusted himself off at third base, he was pulled for pinch-runner Lou Marson. Marson scored the game-winning run on Aaron Cunningham's suicide squeeze, but Hafner wished he could have had the opportunity to finish the trip around the bases.
"It's a tough crowd when you get pinch-run for after a triple," Hafner said with a smile. "He must have known that the tank was empty and there wouldn't be enough to get home."