August 31, 1999 – Indians Complete 8-Run Comeback, David Justice Beans Troy Percival with His Helmet
At 80-51 on the year the Indians were 20 games up on the White Sox and absolutely running away with the Central Division. The visiting Angels were playing less than .400 baseball.
Despite the disparity in their season records, the Angels got out ahead of the Tribe early. Orlando Palmiero doubled off Indians starter Dwight Gooden to lead off the game. After a sac bunt moved him to third, Garret Anderson knocked a single through the right side of the infield to put the Angels up 1-0.
Jim Thome tied things up in the bottom of the second with a solo home run off Angels starter (and future Tribe ace) Chuck Finley. An inning later Manny Ramirez scored two on a single into center. The Indians led 3-1, but soon would face a big deficit.
Troy Glaus tied things up with a 2-run homer off reliever Steve Reid. The Angels added some more runs in the top of the seventh via a Jim Edmunds two-run blast. The top of the eighth saw another five runs from the Halos. Going into the bottom of the eighth the score was 12-4 Anaheim.
Mark Petskovsec replaced Finley on the mound in the bottom of the eighth. Alex Ramirez knocked a single through the left side of the infield to lead off the inning. Jim Thome followed with a double that put Ramirez on third. Richie Sexson cleared the bases with another single. David Justice and Enrique Wilson also singled to load the bases for catcher Einar Diaz.
Petkovsec was pulled from the game in favor of Shigetoshi Hasegawa. Petkovsec allowed two runs on five hits and did not record an out. Hasegawa recorded two quick outs on pop flies by Diaz and Dave Roberts. Omar Vizquel stepped in with the bases loaded and two out. He singled to left to score Sexson and cut the Angels lead to 12-6. Troy Perceval came in to replace Hasegawa.
Robbie Alomar followed with a two-run single and then stole second with Harold Baines at the plate. Baines plated two more runs with a single into right field. Jim Thome drew a walk and moved Baines over into scoring position. With the tying run now at second, Manager Mike Hargrove called on Carlos Baerga to pinch run for Baines.
Percival’s third pitch to Richie Sexson skipped away from Angels catcher Benjie Molina. Baerga and Thome moved up 90 feet on the wild pitch. Sexson took Percival’s 1-2 pitch deep into left-center. The 3-run homer put the Tribe up 14-12.
Frustration at the blown save boiled over as Percival plunked David Justice in the side. Justice threw his helmet as he charged the mound and hit Percival, triggering a bench-clearing altercation. Troy Glaus tackled Justice to the infield, while Molina held back Percival.
After the fight and the resulting ejections the Indians lineup was a bit unorthodox. Pitcher Charles Nagy came in to pinch run for Justice. He was forced out at second on an Enrique Wilson grounder to end the inning.
In the top of the ninth, Paul Shuey came on to pitch and Omar Vizquel moved to right field. He never had the opportunity to record a right field put-out as Shuey retired Troy Glaus and Jeff Huson. Jim Edmonds and Orlando Palmero hit back-to-back singles to put the tying run aboard, but Shuey got Todd Green to ground out to the end the game.
This was the third time in 1999 that the Indians rallied from an 8-run or greater deficit to win. This season of comebacks is unmatched in MLB history.