for this game

Hafner lifts Indians to victory over Royals

Sep 30, 2007 - 11:54 PM By Alan Eskew PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

KANSAS CITY, Missouri (Ticker) - Travis Hafner drove in two runs, bringing his RBI total to 100, as the Cleveland Indians defeated the Kansas City Royals, 4-2, in the regular season finale Sunday.

The Indians, who finished the season like they began it, with a victory, won the American League Central and will play the New York Yankees, beginning Thursday at Jacobs Field.

Hafner's double in the third scored Jason Michaels, who led off the inning with a walk, and Luis Rivas, who was running for Asdrubal Cabrera, who also walked, giving Hafner four consecutive 100 RBI seasons.

"It was a goal I wanted to get to," Hafner said. "I wanted to keep that streak going. I take a lot of pride in being a run producer."

Hafner also is taking pride in Cleveland's accomplishments this season.

"I'm excited to be going to the playoffs for the first time. That's my focus," he said. "Everybody's excited to get going again. It'll be tough to wait around for the next few days. We've played pretty well the last month. It's as good as we've played this year. We're excited, we're ready to go. We're excited for the opportunity."

Hafner's double was off Luke Hochevar (0-1), the first pick in the 2006 draft, who was making his first Major League start after three relief appearances. Hochevar, who was on a pitch count, left after three innings, allowing two runs, three hits and two walks, while striking out one.

Hafner hit .373 with four home runs and 13 RBI in his final 17 games.

"He's hitting at the right time for us and you can't ask for anything more," Indians manager Eric Wedge said. "He's impacting the baseball the way you expect Travis to. He's a great hitter. With Travis, our expectations are through the roof. He's a great player and we expect great things from him."

The Indians upped their lead to 3-0 in the fourth when Andy Marte's double scored Franklin Gutierrez, who began the inning with an infield single.

The Royals got a run in the fifth when Joey Gathright's two-out single scored Justin Huber.

In the seventh, the Royals cut the lead to 3-2. Ross Gload led off the inning with a pinch double, moved to third on a Paul Phillips ground out and scored on Tony Pena's groundout.

Lefthander Aaron Laffey (4-2), who limited the Royals to four hits and one run in five innings, picked up the victory.

"I thought I threw really well," Laffey said. "I was hitting my spots. My sinker was working well and I was throwing my slider in there for strikes. It helps me knowing guys will be swinging at everything. I can just throw the sinker in the strike zone and let guys put it in play. They wanted to keep me at 65 (pitches) or below so that I can possibly be able to pitch out of the bullpen on Thursday."

Laffey turned a 3-1 lead over to the bullpen after 58 pitches.

"He pitched real good," Wedge said. "He was real efficient and he worked ahead a lot. He had a good fastball. That fifth inning was good to see from a young pitcher. For him to compose himself and pitch the way he did in that inning was impressive. As a young starting pitcher, you have to learn quickly when you get up here, and he's done a good job."

Joe Borowski picked up his American League-leading 45th save.

"It's the playoffs now." Borowski said. "You can throw all that stuff out. We just want to go in and win three straight. It doesn't matter what we've done (in the regular season). It doesn't matter what they've done. It all starts over."

It was an emotional day for the Royals as it was the final game for Buddy Bell as manager and probably the last game for Mike Sweeney as a Royal.

Bell announced on August 1 he was stepping down after the season as manager, but will remain with the club in a front office position.

General manager Dayton Moore and Sweeney presented Bell with a framed jersey in pre-game ceremonies. Bell tipped his cap to the Indians dugout and manager Eric Wedge, who he served as a bench coach before taking the Royals' managerial job on May 31, 2005.

"It's not quite as easy as I thought it was going to be," Bell said. "While it was a special day, today was a bad day for me as far as missing people. There are people I'll have lasting relationships with here. I'm disappointed I can't stay here any longer. There are things I have to do (outside of baseball)."

Sweeney, who is in the final year of a five-year $55 million contract, received a standing ovation every time he came to the plate. Bell removed Sweeney with one out in the top of the seventh. Sweeney, who left to another standing ovation and bowed to the crowd and tipped his cap.

"If this is my last day as a Kansas City Royal, I couldn't picture going out a better way," Sweeney said. "The fans were incredible. I wish we could have won the game. I would have loved to have a hit on my last at-bat.

"It is definitely the most emotional day I've ever spent on a baseball field, having my family here, my parents and my brothers flew in from California, having (former teammate) Joe Randa here. The only thing missing was a win. The fans were awesome. If this is the finish line, I'll never forget it. My first at-bat, I had to fight back the tears."








  • AL
    FINAL
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
    - - - - - - - - - - - -
    CLEVELAND 0 0 2 1 0 0 0 0 1 4 9 1
    KANSAS CITY 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 0 2 8 1 (FINAL)

    BATTERIES: CLE - AARON LAFFEY, TOM MASTNY (6TH), AARON FULTZ (7TH), JOE
    BOROWSKI (9TH) AND KELLY SHOPPACH
    KAN - LUKE HOCHEVAR, BRANDON DUCKWORTH (4TH), LEO NUNEZ
    (5TH), JOEL

    Sep 30 4:48 PM


  • AL
    AT KANSAS CITY - SCORING UPDATE
    DOUBLE BY BEN FRANCISCO SCORED KELLY SHOPPACH.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, B FRANCISCO ON SECOND, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: CLEVELAND 4
    KANSAS CITY 2 TOP, 9TH
    DUE UP FOR CLEVELAND: L RIVAS (.300, 0-FOR-2)

    Indians vs. RoyalsSep 30 4:36 PM
  • 5
    roots
    RUWTbot Took away 35 roots (Close Finish)

    Indians vs. RoyalsSep 30 4:36 PM
  • 40
    roots
    RUWTbot Added 35 roots (Close Finish)

    Indians vs. RoyalsSep 30 4:23 PM


  • AL
    AT KANSAS CITY - SCORING UPDATE
    GROUND OUT BY TONY PENA JR SCORED ROSS GLOAD.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, NONE ON, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: CLEVELAND 3
    KANSAS CITY 2 BOTTOM, 7TH
    DUE UP FOR KANSAS CITY: J GATHRIGHT (.308, 1-FOR-3, RBI)

    Indians vs. RoyalsSep 30 4:01 PM


  • AL
    AT KANSAS CITY - SCORING UPDATE
    SINGLE BY JOEY GATHRIGHT SCORED JUSTIN HUBER.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, J GATHRIGHT ON FIRST, T PENA JR ON SECOND, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: CLEVELAND 3
    KANSAS CITY 1 BOTTOM, 5TH
    DUE UP FOR KANSAS CITY: E GERMAN (.266, 0-FOR-2)

    Indians vs. RoyalsSep 30 3:35 PM


  • AL
    AT KANSAS CITY - SCORING UPDATE
    GROUND OUT BY CHRIS GOMEZ SCORED FRANKLIN GUTIERREZ.
    SITUATION: 1 RUN IN, A MARTE ON THIRD, 1 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: CLEVELAND 3
    KANSAS CITY 0 TOP, 4TH
    DUE UP FOR CLEVELAND: J MICHAELS (.272, 1-FOR-1)

    Indians vs. RoyalsSep 30 3:08 PM


  • AL
    AT KANSAS CITY - SCORING UPDATE
    DOUBLE BY TRAVIS HAFNER SCORED JASON MICHAELS AND LUIS
    RIVAS.
    SITUATION: 2 RUNS IN, T HAFNER ON SECOND, 2 OUT
    CURRENT SCORE: CLEVELAND 2
    KANSAS CITY 0 TOP, 3RD
    DUE UP FOR CLEVELAND: R GARKO (.290, 0-FOR-1)

    Indians vs. RoyalsSep 30 2:52 PM
  • 5
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    jemurray Added 5 roots

    Indians vs. RoyalsSep 30 11:58 AM