Game 119

August 18, 2016 – Naquin Completes the Comeback with a Pinch-Hit Walkoff

No, not that Tyler Naquin Walkoff. The White Sox were wrapping up a mid-week series at Progressive Field. The Indians had just activated Danny Salazar from the 15-day DL to start against the Sox’ Carlos Rodon. 

Salazar walked three of the first four batters he faced, then Justin Morneau drove a bases-clearing double into left-center. Morneau was left on base, but the Sox were out to an early 3-0 lead. 

Salazar did not return for the top of the second. Kyle Crockett pitched a 1-2-3 inning. Mike Clevinger took the mound for the top of the third and held the Sox scoreless through the top of the seventh. 

The Tribe started climbing back in the bottom of the fifth when Carlos Santana led off with a double and then was driven in by a Jose Ramirez single. 

In the bottom of the sixth, Roberto Perez slapped a leadoff single into right field. Jason Kipnis bounced one into the stands for a ground rule double that put Perez on third. Francisco Lindor slapped a single into short right field to make the score 3-2 Sox after six. 

After Dan Otero replaced Clevinger in the top of the seventh, JB Shuck bunted Tim Anderson from second to third. Omar Narvaez poked a grounder through the left side of the infield to give the Sox an insurance run. 

Rajai Davis made it a 4-3 game with an RBI double in the bottom of the seventh, and Jose Ramirez tied it with a two-out RBI single in the bottom of the eighth. Andrew Miller pitched a scoreless ninth inning to hold the tie. 

In the bottom of the ninth, Abe Almonte led things off with a double into center field. Terry Francona signaled to Roberto Perez to bunt Almonte over to third. However, Jacob Turner’s first pitch to skipped away from Narvaez behind the plate for a passed ball that put Almonte on third. 

Now in a swing-away situation, Terry Francona decided that he could do better than Roberto Perez, who was hitting .108 at the time. He called on Tyler Naquin as a rare mid-at-bat pinch hitter. 

On Turner’s first pitch to Naquin, he lofted a fly ball to deep center. Almonte was able to tag and score the winning run for a walkoff sacrifice. 

Francona later said, “Tyler Naquin was sitting over there by the bat rack for a couple of days, ready to hit. …We didn’t have to go find him. He was ready, and it showed.”

Baseball Reference Box Score


Game 92

July 11, 2013 – Danny Salazar Defeats Cy Young Winner R.A. Dickey in MLB Debut

Danny Salazar started the 2013 season in Akron, moved up to Columbus and was called up to make spot start in the Thursday afternoon businessman’s special as the Indians were limping into the All-Star break with a 47-44 record. 

The Blue Jays were wrapping up a mid-week series in Cleveland and would throw reigning Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey against Salazar in his major league debut. Manager Terry Francona has said that he prefers to have new players make their debut in day games, so that they don’t have all day to become anxious. The noon start certainly seemed to benefit Salazar. 

Salazar came out firing and struck out Blue Jays leadoff man Jose Reyes on five pitches to start the game. After a 1-2-3 inning, Asdrubal Cabrera staked Salazar to a lead with a solo home run in the bottom of the first. 

Salazar had the home crowd behind him as he struck out the side against the heart of the Jays order in the top of the second, getting Adam Lind, Colby Rasmus, and Maicer Izturis all swinging. His fastball routinely reached 97 to 99 MPH on the radar gun. 

The veteran knuckleballer and the rookie battled back and forth until the sixth inning. Jays catcher Josh Thole singled to left to lead off the sixth. Salazar got an ovation from the crowd for holding the Jays hitless to that point. After getting the next two outs, Jose Bautista tied the game with an RBI double down the left field line. 

Dickey’s knuckleball lost some of its movement around the sixth inning as well. He hit Michael Brantley and walked Ryan Rayburn to lead off the inning. After Brantley stole second, he walked Mark Reynolds to load the bases. Lonnie Chisenhall singled to left, which scored Brantley easily. Rajai Davis’ throw in from left missed the mark, allowing Rayburn to score as well. 

Rich Hill replaced Salazar in the top of the seventh and tossed a 1-2-3 inning. Likewise, Cody Allen retired the Jays with no damage in the eighth. 

After a Ryan Rayburn walk to leadoff the bottom of the eighth, Carlos Santana knocked a fly ball to deep right that got past a diving Jose Bautista for an RBI triple that put the Tribe up 4-2. 

Closer Chris Perez came on to pitch the ninth inning. Perez was an effective closer, but his saves rarely came without drama. After recording the first two outs, Adam Lind doubled to right. Colby Rasmus then singled through the right side of the infield, scoring lind and cutting the Indians lead to one run. After a passed ball and a walk, Perez got Rajai Davis to fly out to left to record his save and give Salazar the win. 

Salazar struck out seven Blue Jays on 89 pitches. This was the  the most strikeouts for an Indians pitcher in his MLB debut since Luis Tiant struck out 11 Yankees in  Game 91 of the 1964 Season

With his quality spot start, Salazar took some pressure off the overworked Indians bullpen, but also got himself an entry in the history books as only the fourth pitcher to defeat the reigning Cy Young winner in his MLB debut. 

Baseball Reference Box Score

Honorable Mention: July 18th, 2010 – Jhonny Peralta Inside the Park Home Run