Who would have guessed that Austin Kearns would be the hero of Cleveland Indians fans on the 4th of July this year? This is the same Kearns who fans have been wanting to see removed from the roster for awhile after he consistently underperformed.â†µ
Heading into yesterday’s game, Kearns was batting just .196. He had 2 RBIs on the season and no home runs. He struck out once every 2.8 at bats. All season, whenever Kearns came up to the plate and I was listening to Tom Hamilton call the play-by-play action, I had no faith that anything positive was going to happen.â†µ
That changed when Kearns came up to the plate with two on and two out in the seventh inning against the Yankees’ A.J. Burnett. Despite all of Kearns’ struggles this season and the fact that Burnett had been pitching extremely well, the only other two batters I would have asked to be up at the plate at that time were Asdrubal Cabrera and Travis Hafner.â†µ
The reason? Kearns had smashed the ball in his first two at bats. I joked with my brother in those first two at bats that Kearns must have decided, “now that the wind is not in my favor, I’ll finally try to hammer it so it falls just shy of the wall.” When crunch time came, Kearns hit the ball hard for the third time in a row — this time, it had the distance. He sent the entire crowd home happy, but declined to come out for a curtain call. That was a good decision by Kearns; he’s a professional, and I’m sure he has been just as frustrated by his struggles at the plate as fans have been.â†µ
I don’t think this will be some form of a turnaround for Kearns, but at least for one night, he showed why he was worth hanging on to.