August 23, 1986 – Andre Thornton Game-Winning Pinch Hit
The 1986 Indians were playing just above .500 ball, but were just one game out of last place in the American League East. A crowd of over 40,000 came down to the Lakefront to see the first place Red Sox. Knuckleballer Tom Candiotti was starting against Tom Seaver in the marquee pitching matchup of the weekend.
In the top of the third, Wade Boggs struck first for the Red Sox with a solo home run off Candiotti.
The Tribe bounced back in the bottom of the third when Brook Jacoby led off the inning with a single. Seaver walked Tribe catcher Chris Bando. Jacoby advanced to third on a fielder’s choice and was driven home on a Julio Franco single. Joe Carter hit another single, putting runners on second and third with one out. Mel Hall grounded out, but Tony Bernazard hustled home to give the Indians a 2-1 lead.
The Indians extended their lead in both the fourth and fifth innings. An RBI single by Chris Bando and a solo home run by Joe Carter, respectively gave the Indians a 4-1 lead after 5.
The Tribe threatened again in the bottom of the sixth. They chased Seaver from the game with consecutive singles by Jacoby and Bando. Sammy Steward replaced Seaver and walked the first batter he faced to load the bases. Julio Franco hit into a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning.
Candiotti gave up a double to Marty Barrett and a walk to Jim Rice in the top of the eighth. Ernie Camacho was brought in for relief. Camacho walked Don Baylor to load the bases. Dwight Evans singled to drive in a run, and then Rice scored on a Bill Buckner groundout to cut the Indians’ lead to 1 run.
Rich Gedman got aboard with a leadoff double in the top of the ninth and advanced to third on a groundout. Wade Boggs lofted a fly into foul territory in left field. Mel Hall put Boggs out on the fly, but Romero tagged up to win the game.
Bob Stanley came in to pitch the bottom of the ninth for the Sox and he brought his gas can to the mound. Chris Bando drew a walk. Tony Bernazard singled. Julio Franco hit into a fielders choice, leaving runners at first and second. Joe Carter singled to load the bases. Tribe Manager Pat Corrales called on Thunder Thornton to pinch hit. Andre knocked a game-winning single for a 5-4 final score.
Throughout the 1980s, Thornton was one of the most beloved ballplayers in Cleveland. He was a prolific home run hitter and run producer on a team that was often mediocre at best. Thornton played 11 seasons for the Indians, mostly as a DH. During his tenure, the Tribe finished above .500 just three times.