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2010 in Review: Top 9 Hitting Performances

2010/12/30
Shin-Soo Choo

Image via Wikipedia

Most Indians fans would rather not remember last season.  Our best player, Grady Sizemore, suffered another season-ending injury.  Our top prospect, Carlos Santana, had his season shortened by a Ryan Kalish slide.  Our best pitchers in seasons past, C.C. Sabathia and Cliff Lee, once again led their teams to the playoffs while the Indians skidded to another fourth-place finish.

All in all, 2010 was a year to forget.

But being a Cleveland fan often means taking pleasure in the trees, even when the forest is burning down around us.  When Manny Ramirez hit his final home run as an Indian, I rejoiced even though the Mariners eliminated the Indians from the playoffs the very same day.

Here, then, are the top nine hitting performances by Indians in 2010.

9.  Shin-Soo Choo, June 27 at Cincinnati

Choo homered twice—a solo HR in the first inning and a three-run shot in the 5th—off Bronson Arroyo to lead the Indians to a 5-3 victory over the Reds. A deep fly ball to right in Choo’s last at-bat provided a glimpse of things to come.

8.  Austin Kearns, April 27 at Los Angeles

Ahh, remember the heady days of spring, when Kearns had recaptured the magic of his rookie season, Asdrubal Cabrera and Sizemore were atop the batting order and the Indians were not yet mathematically eliminated?

Kearns homered and doubled in a run against Joe Saunders in this game, then hit a bases-clearing three-run double off Matt Palmer in the 8th.  At the end of the next night, Kearns was hitting .383/.431/.660, his high-water mark in 2010. For the rest of the season, he hit just .247/.341/.360.

And now he’s back for 2011. Yay.

7.  Jason Donald, July 5 at Texas

Best remembered for being the 27th out of Armando Galarraga‘s would-be perfect game, Donald had the best day of his young career against the Rangers, going 4-for-4 with two doubles, two stolen bases and a walk. Despite Donald’s five times on base, the Indians could only plate him once; once was enough, as the Tribe rolled 9-3.

6.  Carlos Santana, June 12 vs. Washington

In just his second game, the supernatural Santana got his first two big league hits, a two-run double in the second inning and a leadoff HR in the fifth, off former Tribe farmhand J.D. Martin in the Indians’ 7-1 victory.  The next night, Santana singled and walked against The Best Pitching Prospect Ever, Stephen Strasburg.

5.  Shelley Duncan, September 14 vs. Los Angeles

Duncan, the son of former Indians catcher Dave Duncan, homered twice and singled off the Angels’ Scott Kazmir. Kazmir, whose fastball routinely clocked in the upper 90s when he first broke into the league, served up mostly “hitting-speed” fastballs of 90-91 mph to the Indians. Duncan homered on one of these fastballs, and also on a 78 mph changeup, described on Wikipedia as Kazmir’s weakest pitch.

4.  Travis Hafner, August 30 vs. Chicago

With games like this one, Pronk rekindled hopes that he can return to the form that made him one of the most dangerous hitters in the AL.  Hafner hit .329/.409/.523 in the second half, yet played in only 44 games and made only 176 plate appearances. For one day at least, he was the Pronk of old, hitting three doubles (including two off lefty Mark Buehrle) and going 4-for-5.

Hafner’s efforts were wasted, however, as the White Sox clubbed Rafael Perez for four runs in the 11th to win, 10-6.

3.  Jhonny Peralta, June 4 at Chicago

Most Tribe fans would rate Jhonny Peralta‘s last game with the Indians as his best, but Peralta might counter by reminding them of this game against the White Sox. Peralta went 4-for-5 with two doubles and four RBI to give Justin Masterson only his second win as a member of the Cleveland rotation.

2.  Shin-Soo Choo, April 18 at Chicago

Choo topped the Indians in nearly every offensive category in 2010; aptly, then, two of his performances top this list as well. In this Sunday contest, Choo singled home Cabrera in the first inning, chased Gavin Floyd with a grand slam in the second, then added a walk for good measure.

1.  Shin-Soo Choo, September 17 at Kansas City

Late in the season, with the Indians in a pitched battle with the Royals for last place in the Central, Choo homered in three of his last four at-bats—off three different pitchers.  (This being the Royals, none of them were major league caliber, of course.)  Choo’s four hits, three runs and seven RBI win the prize for the best hitting performance of 2010.

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