Red Right 88

In Cleveland, hope dies last

Holding out for a hero

Another day, another hero, another win for the never-say-die Cleveland Indians.

They left it late, but the Tribe came through against the Blue Jays on Travis Hafner’s walk-off grand slam.

Hafner’s heroics were made possible, once again, by the Tribe bullpen, which combined for five innings of one-run ball while everyone waited for the offense to do something.

“We had the right guy up there, but it started with the guys at the bottom of our lineup,” Indians manager Manny Acta said in published reports. “After the first two guys got on — I didn’t think about a walk-off — but I thought we had a pretty good chance with our lineup rolling over.

“Everybody needs to have hope. Every day of your life, you have to think you’re going to do it.”

What a week its been for the Indians.

Taking two out of three from the Yankees, thanks to Austin Kearns’ improbable home run on Monday, and Josh Tomlin and Justin Masterson shoving it up the Yankees’ asses in the two wins (a combined 15 innings pitched, six hits, two earned runs, 11 strikeouts and only three walks) to last night’s comeback, the Tribe seems to have emerged from June’s slump.

And they are doing it with key players still struggling and what seems like almost an injury-a-day policy.

But, through it all, they keep plugging along, never giving in or giving up.

One example of never giving up comes from the always informative DiaTribe, which points out that the right-field platoon of Travis Buck, Austin Kearns and Shelley Duncan have combined to hit .307 with a .844 OPS on 43 plate appearances since Shin-Soo Choo went down with an injury.

It may not be pretty, and it may not feel like it at times, but there’s no questioning this team is finding ways to win – and that is one of the reasons they are so much fun to root for.

And through it all – the injuries, the slumps, guys coming up and going down to Columbus, the only having three-fifths of a reliable starting rotation – the Tribe is in first place, 1.5 games ahead of Detroit and 5.5. up on the White Sox. In fact, over the past 10 games the Indians have picked up three games on Detroit and two games on the ChiSox.

And with Tomlin and Carlos Carrasco scheduled to take the hill this weekend, there is everyone reason to believe the team will head into next week’s All-Star break on a high note.

Get ready Cleveland, it’s shaping up to be one heck of a second half of the season.

(Photo by The Associated Press)

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