Indians walk off with 2-0 series lead
Hafner delivers game-winning RBI single in the 11th inning
CLEVELAND -- His evening's at-bats had been exasperating -- much like his season, as a whole.Travis Hafner had been punched out twice Friday, had been one of 14 Indians runners stranded on the basepaths, and had seen what would have been a game-tying RBI single in the eighth inning go straight into the mitt of first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz. This was a night that echoed a year. The man known as Pronk had struggled all season to live up to his own enormous potential, and the frustration was mounting on the game's biggest stage. Then came a twist. With the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the 11th, Hafner drew a full count from reliever Luis Vizcaino and lined a single up the middle to score Kenny Lofton with the winning run. It gave the Tribe a thrilling 2-1 victory and a commanding 2-0 lead in an ALDS that will now shift from Jacobs Field to Yankee Stadium. "I came up in a great situation," Hafner said of his heroic at-bat. "Bases loaded, two outs. That's what you dream about as a kid." This season, admittedly, hasn't gone the way Hafner dreamed it up. Yes, he drove in 100 runs for the fourth consecutive year, but he hit a relatively meager .266 in the process. Opposing teams' ability to successfully work the infield shift had robbed him of many base hits. But he consistently shrugged off his own troubles, as he was more caught up in the success of the club. Now, this club is en route to New York with the most comfortable of leads in this best-of-five series. And it has Hafner to thank. "It was great to see him come through for us," manager Eric Wedge said, "and for him individually." No one was coming through at the plate for the Tribe for the majority of this game, and that simple fact nearly wasted an outstanding start from Fausto Carmona. The game's regulation innings were alternately dominating and devastating, from the Indians' perspective. Domination came in the form of Carmona's nine innings of work, in which Melky Cabrera's third-inning solo shot proved to be his only miscue. Carmona allowed just three hits, induced 18 groundball outs and two double plays. And with the score knotted at 1 with a man on second and two outs in the ninth, he went out with a flourish, striking out likely American League MVP Alex Rodriguez on a 3-2 pitch and leaving to a thundering ovation from the sellout crowd.
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.