KANSAS CITY, Missouri (AP) ― Travis Hafner gave a powerful reminder of what he’s meant to the Cleveland Indians.
Hafner hit one of the longest home runs in Kauffman Stadium history, Shelley Duncan homered and drove in three runs and the Indians romped past the Kansas City Royals 13-7 Sunday for a three-game sweep.
Casey Kotchman and Jason Kipnis homered on consecutive pitches for Cleveland in the eighth inning.
For the first time in the Indians’ 111-year history, they scored at least eight runs in their first three road games of a season.
Hafner’s home run in the fifth inning off Luis Mendoza went an estimated 456 feet and was the first to land in a sports bar behind the right-field bleachers. It was the longest home run at Kauffman Stadium since David Ortiz, then with Minnesota, hit one 458 feet on April 8, 2001.
Cleveland Indians right fielder Choo Shin-soo watches his two-run double in the third inning on Sunday. (AP-Yonhap News)
“I’ve seen a lot of games here and I haven’t seen a ball hit that far,” Indians manager Manny Acta said. “That was pretty impressive. He’s hit two balls already that the people in Cleveland were used to seeing before he hurt his shoulder.”
Hafner hit 42 home runs in 2006, then had shoulder surgery in 2008. In the next three seasons while recovering, he hit a total of 42 homers.
“I feel great and really have a good approach at the plate and the swing feels good. I’m in a good spot,” Hafner said.
It was not the longest home run of Hafner’s career, but close. “I think there have been some measured like in the 470s, but that’s about as good as I can hit them,” he said. “I followed it. I didn’t see it at the very end. I thought it made it over the seats. I was just able to stay back on an off-speed pitch and put a good swing on it and backspin it. It’s fun to hit them that good.”
Ortiz stays hot as Sox trip Rays
BOSTON (AP) ― One of Bobby Valentine’s first acts as Red Sox manager was to visit David Ortiz in the Dominican Republic and let him know how important it was to keep him on the team.
Now everybody is seeing that.
Ortiz, a free agent in the offseason, is off to one of the best starts of his career. On Sunday, the slugging designated hitter doubled in the go-ahead run for his seventh consecutive hit and Boston won its third straight game over the Tampa Bay Rays, 6-4.
“I definitely wanted to let him know that the new guy really wanted him,” said Valentine, who was named manager Dec. 1. “I think that’s basically all I said, that I always appreciated watching him from afar and I know how important he is to any team. And I wanted him on mine.”
Ortiz agreed to a one-year, $14.575 million contract on Feb. 13 and brought a greater desire to play a leadership role.
“The best way to be a leader is come to the ballpark, prepare and be a professional, and we all know that’s what Papi is,” Boston’s Adrian Gonzalez said.
One thing that hasn’t changed is the left-handed Ortiz’s ability to hit lefties. Last season, he batted .329 against them and .298 against righties. He went 3 for 4 on Sunday with all the hits against left-hander Matt Moore (0-1).
Toronto 9, Baltimore 2
Miami 5, Houston 4
Atlanta 7, Milwaukee 4
Cincinnati 8, Washington 5
Philadelphia 8, NY Mets 2
Detroit 5, Chicago White Sox 2
Texas 4, Minnesota 3
St. Louis 10, Chicago Cubs 3
Arizona 5, Colorado 2
Pittsburgh 4, San Francisco 1
Seattle 5, Oakland 3
LA Dodgers 5, San Diego 4
NY Yankees 11, LA Angels 5