Uncategorized

Game 42

June 12, 1995 – The Sellout Streak Begins

While the excitement around the team had built through 1994 with the nucleus of the team coming together in a new ballpark, the 1995 team was an absolute juggernaut.

John Harts home-grown talent was finally bearing real fruit. The team featured All-Stars at nearly every position. Solid hitters who would have populated the heart of the order on lesser teams Paul Sorrento and a young Manny Ramirez were often listed 7th or 8th behind mashers like Albert Belle and Jim Thome.

On a Monday night in June 1995, Jacobs Field sold out. In most cities, baseball attendance picks up when school is out for the summer and when folks begin to take vacations. So this was not altogether surprising. What followed was exceptional.

The Indians would go on to win six straight division titles and treat the fans to 44 walkoff wins over the next six years. And the sellouts would continue–455 consecutive regular season home games. Until Game 2 of the 2001 season, a ticket was not available at first pitch.

Throughout the streak, seats were consistently added to Jacobs Field, bringing it to a peak capacity of 45,569. Some readers may remember the “Auxiliary Bleachers” that sprouted beyond the former picnic patio in center field for a few years. Subsequent renovations have dialed back capacity significantly, with current seating listed at 34,788.

From 1996 to 2001 Tribe attendance was over 3 Million each season. Currently, there are eight major league teams that have never drawn 3 million fans in the course of a season.

So, what happened on June 12, 1995 to kick it all off? Chuck Nagy pitched a solid seven innings, giving up three runs, only one of which was earned. Omar Vizquel drove home Wayne Kirby with a sacrifice hit in the bottom of the third, and the Trbe pulled away in the bottom of the fourth with an RBI double by Eddie Murray, an RBI single by Wayne Kirby, and a walk by Omar Vizquel with the bases loaded to force in a run. Paul Assenmacher and Jose Mesa both pitched 1-2-3 innings in the eighth and ninth to close out the contest. In short, it was the type of game that happened nearly every night for the 1995 squad.

In 2001, Jim Thome commented on the end of the streak, “We appreciate what our fans did to achieve that streak. There were lots of nights when they could have stayed home and watched the game on television, but they came out to the ballpark.”

Baseball Reference Box Score

Honorable Mention: May 16, 2019 – Orioles FARTSLAM Might Be Worst Defensive Play in History

Standard
Uncategorized

Game 39

May 17, 1996 – Manny Ramirez Pinch-Hit Home Run

The Indians came into this weekend series with the Rangers riding a five-game winning streak. Orel Hershiser matched up with Kevin Gross in front of a sold out Friday night crowd.

At the end of three innings, the score stood at 2-1 Tribe. Things went sideways for Hershiser in the top of the 4th. Texas scored five runs on six straight hits, including four doubles. After Kevin Elster’s double, Joe Roa was summoned from the bullpen. Roa gave up the sixth run of the inning on a line-drive single by Pudge Rodriguez, but otherwise was able to stop the bleeding.

In the top of the 5th, Roa would walk Mark McLemore and then give up back to back doubles to Kevin Elster and Darryl Hamilton. Alan Embree replaced Roa and secured the last out of the 5th, leaving the score at 9-2 Rangers and leaving the fans wondering if they would see some Jacobs Field comeback magic.

The Tribe began to close the gap in the top of the 5th, with a sacrifice fly by Kenny Lofton followed by an RBI single by Julio Franco.

Embree battled through the top of the 6th, striking out the Rangers side in order on 19 total pitches. Leading off the bottom of the 6th, Eddie Murray chased Gross from the game after he sent a home run over the wall in right-center on a full count.

Dennis Cook replaced Gross, and quickly struck out Jim Thome. At this point, Manny Ramirez was brought in to pinch hit for right fielder Jeromy Burnitz. Manny and Sandy Alomar were retired in order, unable to build on Murray’s energy.

Kevin Elster touched up Embree for a line-drive solo home run in the top of the 7th, leaving the score total 10-5 Rangers.

With two outs in the bottom of the 7th and Kenny Lofton on first, Carlos Baerga hit a bloop single into short right field. Lofton reached third on a throwing error. With Baerga on first and Lofton on third, Albert Belle singled to center, sending Lofton home. Next, Eddie Murray stepped in and knocked an almost identical single to center driving in Baerga.

Reliever Ed Vosburg was brought in to face Jim Thome, and was immediately replaced by Gil Heredia after walking Thome.

Heredia headed to the mound and immediately got behind in the count to Manny Ramirez. Manny drove one into the bleachers. Manny’s grand slam put the Tribe ahead 11-10.

Albert Belle would later drive in Lofton for an insurance run. Jose Mesa secured the save, and the 1990s Indians kept on rolling.

Manny is regarded as one of the best clutch hitters of all time. He was masterful with runners on base. Ramirez hit thirteen grand slams over his eight-year career with the Indians. Over his entire career, he recorded twenty-one, which is third on the all-time list only behind Alex Rodriguez (25) and Lou Gerhig (23). The closest active player is Albert Pujols with fourteen.

Standard
Uncategorized

Game 34

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.

Baseball Reference Box Score


Standard
Uncategorized

Game 33

May 14, 1994 – Paul Shuey Strikes Out Four in the 9th Inning

The Indians selected Paul Shuey as the second overall pick in the 1992 amatuer draft. He was projected to be the Indians closer as the 1990s dynasty began to gel together.

About a month after moving into Jacobs Field, the Indians were 16-17 and facing the Tigers in a weekend divisional series. Jack Morris started for the Tribe against Bill Gullickson.

Eddie Murray put the Indians in the lead on the bottom of the first with a line drive triple to deep right field, scoring Carlos Baerga and Albert Belle.

In the bottom of the fifth with two outs, Manny Ramirez launched a three-run home run to deep right field. The Indians would continue to cruise through the rest of the game, eventually bringing a 9-3 lead into the top of the ninth.

Paul Shuey came on to replace setup man Jose Mesa who had given up one run on three hits in the 7th and 8th. Shuey got Chad Kreuter to strike out looking on six pitches. Next up was Chris Gomez, who struck out looking in a seven pitch at-bat. Then, Shuey issued two consecutive walks to Tony Philips and Milt Cuyler.

With two outs, Travis Fryman came to the plate. On the 0-2 pitch, Fryman struck out swinging, but the ball got away from Sandy Alomar. Fryman took first base on the wild pitch, and the other runners advanced to load the bases. Undeterred, Shuey headed back to the mound and struck out Cecil Fielder to end the game.

He became the 24th MLBer to record four strikeouts in an inning, and the first to do so in the ninth to end the game. 88 different pitchers have pitched four-strikeout innings to date.

In addition to Shuey, five Indians have pitched four strikeout innings:

Honorable Mention:

May 7, 2008 – Cliff Lee starts the season 6 – 0 will go on to win Cy Young.

Standard
Uncategorized

Game 27

May 3, 1997 -Sandy Alomar Walkoff Hit

Although Indians fans often soured on players from the 90s who left for greener pastures and bigger paychecks, Sandy Alomar is one of the most universally beloved figures from the mid-90s dynasty.

He was often sidelined with injuries, overshadowed by his Hall of Fame brother, or edged out for awards in favor of fellow Puerto-Rican catcher Pudge Rodriguez but throughout the playoff runs of the era he was the undisputed clubhouse leader. Along with his Rookie of the Year 1991 season, 1997 was the year that everything came together for Santos.

Sandy was once again behind the plate as Chad Ogea faced off against the Tiger’s Brian Moehler in this Saturday afternoon contest. The field was soaked after a rainy morning, but the sold-out crowd was in place for this division tilt.

Omar Vizquel walked to lead off the game, and the Indians manufactured a run on groundouts by Tony Fernandez and Jim Thome. Matt Williams would single to first to bring Omar home and get the Tribe on the board.

In the top of the third, the Tigers sent nine batters to the plate. With the bases loaded, Travis Fryman hit a line-drive two-run single. Next up, Tony Clark scorched a three-run home run to deep right center.

Tony Fernandez led off the bottom of the third with a home run. Later in the inning Julio Franco drove in Matt Williams to bring the score to 5-2.

In the bottom of the 8th, Omar Vizquel tied the game on a two-run double to left field off Detroit reliever Dan Miceli.

Eric Plunk was pitching the top of the 9th. He issued a walk to Brian Johnson. The speedy Omar Olivares was sent in to pinch run for Johnson. A wild pitch by Plunk sent Olivares to second. Jody Reed was retired on a fly ball to right, but with two outs on a 0-1 pitch, Brian Hunter knocked a single through the gap between second and short. Olivares scored from second, putting the Tigers up 6-5.

Matt Williams led off the bottom of the ninth with a single over second base. A wild pitch by Tiger’s closer Doug Brocail advanced him to second base. Backup catcher Raul Cassanova lost track of the 2-0 pitch to David Justice, and Williams reached third on the passed ball.

Justice’s deep fly ball to center allowed Williams to tie the game on the sacrifice. Next up, Manny Ramirez would reach on a line drive to short center field. Brocail issued a walk to Julio Franco, sending Manny to second where Chad Curtis would be sent in to pinch run. Brian Giles then grounded to third. The runners advanced, but the Indians were down to their last out.

On a 1-0 pitch, Sandy drove a fly ball to deep right field. It stayed in the park, but easily scored Curtis for the walkoff RBI. This was one of only five walk-off wins in 1997.

Baseball Reference Box Score

Oddity note: Later in the month, during Game 50. Sandy would record the only Indians hit of the game, breaking up Mike Mussina’s bid for a Perfect Game.

Standard