July 6, 1997 – Sandy Alomar’s 30-Game Hit Streak (maybe) Sets a Franchise Record
Although he is best known for his defense, leadership, and ability to call a game, Sandy Alomar Jr. put together one of the best summers of hitting in a generation during May, June, and early July of 1997.
On this night, the Indians were trying to close out the first half of the season with a sweep of the Royals. Orel Hershieser was on the mound against Tim Belcher. Alomar extended the streak in the bottom of the second with a ground ball single to third base. He beat the throw down the line on the weak grounder.
The Tribe got out to a lead in a big way with a grand slam by Manny Ramirez in the bottom of the third.
However, the Royals came in the top of the fourth, hanging seven runs, including a three run double by Scott Cooper, on Hershiser and chasing him from the game.
Matt Williams leadoff home run in the bottom of the fourth and a two-run double by Kevin Seitzer tied the game at 7-7.
Jose Mesa held the Royals at bay for 3 and ⅔ innings. In the bottom of the eighth, Marquis Grissom drove in Omar Vizquel to score what turned out to be the winning run. Michael Jackson pitched the ninth and was awarded the win. The Indians completed the sweep and entered the break with a 3 1/2 game lead in the division.
Of course, the next game following this one was the 1997 All Star Game, which was held at Jacobs Field. Sandy hit the game-winning home run off Shawn Estes and was named the MVP of the All Star Game in front of the hometown crowd.
Sandy could not keep the streak alive after the All Star break, but the 30-Game streak is regarded as the longest in team history. Some record-keepers note a possible 31-game streak by Nap Lajoie in 1906, but the records are somewhat unreliable this early in baseball history and there are differing accounts.
During the streak, Alomar slashed .422/.455/.595. He had 11 home runs at the break, including a streak of five straight games with a home run in April. “I’m in a zone. Everything looks like a beach ball,” he said in one post-game interview.
The one benchmark that Sandy’s streak did not achieve was the longest streak by a catcher. This is notable because that mark is held by Sandy’s old rival Benito Santiago. Santiago put together a 34 game streak for the Padres in 1987. This performance–along with his ability to throw out baserunners from his knees–kept Sandy out of the San Diego lineup in the late 80s and eventually led to his trade to the Indians.