Apologies to Karl Malone, but for the sake of the 2005 Indians, Travis Hafner is the "mailman."
Before Hafner got his bat going tonight, the Indians had managed to scrape together a solo home run from Casey Blake and a Grady Sizemore scamper home on a wild pitch for a tenuous 2-0 lead. After Hafner geared up in the eighth inning, the Indians were cruising to an 8-0 victory.
Hafner finished a 7-for-12 series against the White Sox with a pair of late home runs to drive in five. In a game the Indians desperately needed to win, at the end of a series the Indians desperately needed to win, Hafner showed up.
Chicago entertains Minnesota beginning tomorrow with the solid knowledge that the Indians are, in fact, a team that is now capable of winning a series on the road against a team they were owned by earlier this season. I don't expect Chicago to roll over, but if they were viewing this series as their own personal trench in which to dig their heels, it didn't work. The Indians keep encroaching. And they did it against arguably the best three starting pitchers the White Sox could have thrown at them: Freddy Garcia, Mark Buehrle and Jon Garland. Not one of them got a win in the series.
Truth be told, we might be a Jose Hernandez error away from talking about a sweep. But taking two of three on the road against the first-place White Sox, I am not complaining. There is still a week and a half of baseball to be played.
The Indians leave Chicago 2 1/2 games behind the White Sox with 10 to play. By virtue of the Yankees passing the Red Sox to get into first place in the American League East tonight, Cleveland also gained half a game in the wild card race, going from 1/2 game in front of New York to one game in front of Boston.
And the next time we see the White Sox, it's in our house. Tribe fans, get down to Jacobs Field for the coming homestand, pack that place and make it loud. Your team has proven they deserve it.