Although he didn’t make the American League All-Star team, Travis Hafner has been swinging the bat like one.
Cleveland’s 28-year-old first baseman is hitting .380 with 12 home runs and 37 RBIs over the last 29 games to lead the resurgent Indians back into contention in the AL Central.
“When they took the (All-Star) vote, I didn’t have a very good case,” said Hafner, who has seven homers in 10 games and 17 RBIs in his last nine games.
Hafner hit his third home run of the day to lead Cleveland to a 6-0 victory over the Tigers to sweep a day-night doubleheader Monday.
“That was a lot of fun,” said Hafner, who homered twice and drove in five runs in the Indians’ 9-3 victory in the first game.
Hafner was 6-for-10 with six RBIs in the doubleheader, hitting a 457-foot shot in the eighth inning of the second game.
Cleveland has won nine of 11 and 21 of 28. The Tigers lost for the 10th time in 12 games.
The Indians second win of the day spoiled rookie Justin Verlander’s major league debut.
The right-hander, the No. 2 pick in the 2004 draft, was a combined 10-2 with a 1.43 ERA and 122 strikeouts in 101 innings at two levels in the minor leagues this year.
He gave up four runs and seven hits in 5 1-3 innings, walking three, striking out four and throwing several pitches that registered 99 mph on the radar gun.
“I had a great time,” Verlander said. “I’m glad they gave me this opportunity. I was under the impression I’d be sent back. I wish I could stay, but I’ll go wherever they send me and try to pitch well. I hope I can be called up soon.”
Detroit lefty Mike Maroth will take the mound Tuesday against Hafner and the Indians.
Maroth is 1-4 over his last six starts despite a respectable 3.02 ERA over that span. He’s 4-2 with a 3.79 ERA in seven career starts against Cleveland.
Hafner is 2-for-10 lifetime against Maroth.