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Game Thread: July 2, 2006

Cleveland at Cincinnati, 1:15 PM (STO)
Starting Pitchers:

Cleveland: C.C. Sabathia (6-4, 3.86 ERA)
Cincinnati: Eric Milton (4-4, 5.14 ERA)

The rebounding Sabathia takes on lefty Eric Milton, who got shellacked by the Royals in his last start.  With a weak lefty on the mound -- but no DH -- look for either Shoppach or Garko to get a start today.  Can we go two games in a row without a crushing disappointment?

Tribe fans are basking in the glow of last night's victory -- admittedly, the glow is not exactly blinding -- in which the only bad-nasty thing to happen was Cliff Lee giving up a bases-clearing, game-tying double to the opposing pitcher.  Well, that and some crap baserunning.  And watching Brandon Phillips set some other team's team record for perfect basestealing.

Tribe fans everywhere gasped when manager Eric Wedge -- apparently on pure gut instinct -- tried an aggressive move, pinch-hitting Travis Hafner for Franklin Gutierrez, 2-2 on the day, with the bases loaded.  Wedge's unusual ploy paid huge dividends -- have I ever typed that? -- as the Pronk promptly deposited the ball well beyond the fence in dead-center.

"The toughest part is you're putting them in a position to where they can't pitch around him.  When you have an opportunity like that, you've got to take advantage of it." -- Wedge
Let's pause just a moment and appreciate Travis Hafner, who has now put up a full three years of 1000 OPS, and who has demonstrably been the best hitter in the American League since the start of 2004.  And the question is, how many years can the best hitter in the league go without making it to the All-Star Game?

Innings later, Super Joe Utility Man Inglett and Ryan Garko both got their first major-league hits on back-to-back doubles -- Inglett scored his first run as Garko drove in his first runs -- further extending the Indians lead.  The night was capped by a three-up-three-down performance from Guillermo Mota -- yes, Guillermo Mota.  Is the suffering over?  Is it safe to be a fan again?  Or is all this just an elaborate setup before we get whacked on the head and stabbed in the heart this afternoon?