June 4, 1995 – Paul Sorrento Completes 9-run Comeback
The Blue Jays (still considered the defending Champions, since there were no playoffs in 1994) were wrapping up a weekend series in Cleveland. The pitching match up did not set up favorably, with reigning Cy Young winner David Cone pitching for the Jays against Jason Grimsley. Grimsley was making his second start of the year in the fifth starter role recently vacated by Mark Clark.
Grimsley got off to a dismal start by walking the first three batters he faced. Joe Carter then plated two runs with a single to left field and John Olerud knocked in another. Roberto Alomar bunted to advance the runners, and was followed by a three-run home run by Shawn Green. Grimsley walked Ed Sprague while Chad Ogea was getting warm in the bullpen.
Sprague scored on a Devon White sacrifice fly before Ogea was able to right the ship. At the end of the first, the Tribe found themselves in a 7-0 hole.
Cone mowed through the Indians, facing only seven batters in the first two innings, and the Jays added an insurance run on a sacrifice hit by Devon White in the top of the third.
The Tribe began the long climb back in the bottom of the third, when Omar Vizquel scored Wayne Kirby on a two-out single to left field. Ogea found his footing and retired the Jays in order in both the 4th and 5th innings.
Eddie Murray cut the lead to three with a two-run home run in the bottom of the 5th. After Albert Belle singled in backup catcher Eddie Tucker (in his 17 game cup of coffee with the Tribe) David Cone’s day was done.
Jay’s reliever Tony Castillo held on to the 8-6 lead until the bottom of the 9th. After Carlos Baerga was thrown out attempting to bunt, Castillo was pulled for Darren Hall. Albert Belle dropped a single into short center field, starting the late night rally. Eddie Murray singled to right, advancing Belle to third. Alvaro Espinoza was brought in to pinch-run for Murray. Espinoza was forced out at second when Jim Thome grounded out to short. However, Belle scored on the groundout, cutting the Jay’s lead to one.
Paul Sorrento rocked the first pitch he faced to right field. The breeze was blowing in, and appeared to knock it down a bit. However, it cleared the right field wall and set off the first walkoff celebration of the 1995 season.
In a post-game interview, Sorrento commented on the homer,
“The wind was blowing in. I got a good pitch and I just killed it. “I thought I may have celebrated too early because it barely went out—it was only like the first or second row. …I just remember thinking, ‘Please go out, because I’m going to look like an idiot if it doesn’t.’ It ended up just capping off a great team win. We never gave up.”
Sorrento’s contributions to the 1995 World Series run are often overlooked. Over the first six weeks of the season he slashed .303/.394/.775. Over 104 appearances, he hit .235 with 25 home runs for the season providing solid protection for the likes of Jim Thome and Manny Ramirez hitting in the 5 and 6 holes.