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Hafner cycle makes Tribe history08/14/2003 4:49 PM ET
By Cary Snyder / Special to MLB.com
MINNEAPOLIS -- Travis Hafner stepped to the plate in the eighth inning Thursday needing a triple to hit for the first Indians' cycle since Andre Thornton accomplished the feat 25 years ago. His teammates, led by starting pitcher Brian Anderson, picked out spots in the Metrodome outfield where the burly power hitter would have to drive the ball to compensate for his lackluster speed. Hafner delivered by launching a deep drive that went by Twins center fielder Torii Hunter and bounced against the wall. The slugger chugged around second and slid safely into third base, well ahead of the throw, to complete the task. "I was just thinking, hit the ball hard, get it on the barrel and get it in the gap," Hafner said of his mindset before clearing the biggest hurdle in the monstrous cycle. "You know, see what happens. But I think Torii was playing a little over to left-center. It really happened to just work out perfectly." Hafner picked an ideal way to rebound from his four strikeout, 0-for-5 performance Wednesday. Hafner's mother and dozens of other family and friends were at the stadium Thursday after driving six hours from his hometown of Jamestown, N.D. for the four-game series. "That made it a little more special," Hafner said, "being close to home and playing well in front of those guys." The 26-year-old slugger started with a home run in the second inning by hitting the first pitch he saw from Twins starter Brad Radke over the baggie in right field for a 1-0 lead. He received a bit of luck from the Metrodome's artificial surface in the fourth. Hafner hit a slow ground ball that managed to squeak up the middle for a shallow double to center field. "He (Radke) made a pretty good pitch on a changeup and I kind of tried to hold up and check my swing," said Hafner, who finished 4-for-5 with two RBIs. "This is the only place where that's a hit with the turf, but I'll take it, definitely." The Metrodome may have aided Hafner's accomplishment, but the Twins home park has been stingy with cycles. Paul Molitor was the last to hit for it in the dome as a Milwaukee Brewer on May 15, 1991. In the seventh, Hafner beat out a ground ball in front of the mound for an infield single to set up his decisive eighth-inning speed. Anderson joked that someone would have to go on the DL for the 240-pound Hafner to reach the milestone. While an injury wasn't necessary, Hafner nearly ran himself into the ground on his deep triple. "I don't think I could hear anything," Hafner said of his teammates congratulations after scoring on Josh Bard's single. "I was breathing too hard." Indians right fielder Ryan Ludwick continued to joke about Hafner's speed after the game. "Is that really your first cycle?" Ludwick said to Thursday's biggest star. "That surprises me, with your blazing speed." Cary Snyder is a contributor to MLB.com. This report was not subject to approval by Major League Baseball or its clubs.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.