Game 153

September 19, 2008 – Fausto Carmona Beats on Gary Sheffield in Bench-Clearing Brawl, Choo Homers Twice

Both the Indians and Tigers were well out of the playoff picture behind the Division-leading White Sox. It was only 70 degrees and the breeze was blowing in off the lake, but balls were jumping out of Progressive Field as though it were mid-August. 

The pitcher then-known as Fausto Carmona retired the first nine Tigers he faced. Meanwhile, Shin-Soo Choo put the Tribe up 1-0 with a solo home run of Armando Galaraga in the bottom of the first. 

Curtis Granderson doubled down the left field line to lead off the bottom of the fourth. After two outs, Miguel Cabrera took Fausto deep with a two-run homer to left center. 

Carmona returned to form and pitched 1-2-3 innings in both the fifth and sixth. Then Grady Sizemore tied things up with a solo home run in the bottom of the sixth. 

Maglio Ordonez led off the Detroit half of the seventh with a single. Miguel Cabrera stepped in and launched his second homer of the night off Carmona. Matthew Joyce grounded out, and Gary Sheffield stepped in with the 4-2 lead.

Carmona’s second pitch hit Sheffield square in the elbow. Sheffield walked all the way to first carrying his bat and maintaining a staredown on Fausto. Brandon Inge steps in, but the tension in the building remained between the mound and first base. Fausto made a pickoff move to first, which Sheffield took further exception to. He motioned toward Inge and told Fausto, “Throw to the Plate.” 

Helmets and gloves came off as Sheffield charged the mound. 6-foot-4, 270 pound Carmona caught him in a headlock and landed three or four solid punches before the benches arrived to push and shove the two apart. Victor Martinez in his catching gear goes down after a block in the back and gets up looking to knock a Tiger out. Brandon Inge is able to pull Victor away from the Fray while fellow Venezuelan Miguel Cabrera gets between Victor and the rest of the Tigers. 

(AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

Once things settled down and ejections were sorted out, Edward Mujica struck out Brandon Inge. Victor Martinez gunned down Jeff Larish (who had replaced Sheffield on first) at second for a strike-out throw-out double play to end the frame. 

Ramon Santiago tripled to lead off the eighth for the Tigers, and he was driven in on a Dusty Ryan sacrifice to give Detroit a 5-2 lead heading into the bottom of the eighth. 

Jamey Carrol pinch hit for Andy Marte to lead off the bottom of the eighth and grounded out to second. Asdrubal Cabrera popped out to short. Grady Sizemore blooped a two-out double into short left field which chased Galaraga from the game. 

Casey Fossum emerged from Detroit’s bullpen to throw five straight balls. He issued a walk to Ben Francisco, and then Shin-Soo Choo hit a prodigious three-run blast to right center on Fossum’s first strike. Choo’s homer tied the game at 5-5. 

Rafael Betancourt and Rafael Perez combined to retire the side in the ninth inning. 

Freddy Dolsi hit Kelly Shoppach with his second pitch to put Shoppach on first. He was replaced by Bobby Seay while Josh Barfield came on to pinch run for Shoppach. Travis Hafner struck out swinging, and then Ryan Garko singled down the left field line to put the winning run at third. Utility infielder Jamey Carroll lofted a fly ball to deep right field. It dropped for a walkoff single. 

Baseball Reference Box Score


Game 103

July 31, 2009 – Indians Walkoff Win in the 13th after Trading Lee and Martinez

The Indians had just traded Cy Young winner Cliff Lee to the Phillies and fan favorite Ryan Garko to the Giants. In the afternoon prior to Game 103, the Indians traded beloved catcher and clubhouse leader Victor Martinez to the Red Sox for Justin Masterson, Nick Hagadone, and Bryan Price. The Indians were classic sellers at the trade deadline, as they were 43 and 60 going into July 31st and 11 games behind the division-leading Tigers at the trade deadline. 

Those same Tigers were in town for a Friday night contest at Progressive Field. Fausto Carmona throwing against Detroit’s Edwin Jackson. Both pitchers took a minute to find their footing. Fausto gave up two runs on three hits in the top of the first. Asdrubal Cabrera battled Jackson through a full count, sending the ninth pitch of the at bat over the right field wall for a two-run homer. 

Shin-Soo Choo gave the Tribe a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the fourth when he doubled in Trevor Crowe, who had reached on an error to lead off the inning. 

Taiwainese reliever Fu-Te Ni came in to pitch for the Tigers in the bottom of the sixth. He gave up a leadoff single to Trevor Crowe and then a line-drive RBI double to Asdrubal Cabrera. After hitting Choo in the next at bat, Ni was pulled with the score 4-2. 

Brandon Inge closed the gap for Detroit, poking a ground ball single into center that scored Maglio Ordonez to make it a 4-3 ballgame. 

Trevor Crowe led off the bottom of the eighth with a triple–his third hit of the night. Grady Sizemore drove him in with a single through the right side of the infield to extend the lead to 5-3. 

The Indians had acquired Kerry Wood as a free agent to be their closer after the steep decline of Joe Borowski in 2008. Wood had secured fourteen saves with the Tribe to date. He gave up a line drive single to left to Placido Palanco to lead off the bottom of the ninth. Carlos Guillen stepped in and cranked Kerry’s 3-1 pitch deep into right center. Although he retired the next three Tigers on eight pitches, he was credited with his fifth blown save of the season and the game went to extra innings. 

Tomo Okha pitched some very solid relief for the Tribe, scattering four hits across his four innings pitched. 

Johnny Perralta knocked a line drive down the right field line for a double to lead off the bottom of the 13th. Utility man Jamey Carroll, who had pinch run for Travis Hafner in the bottom of the ninth, stepped in. Carroll sliced a single just inside the first base bag to drive in Perralta and give the Tribe an emotional walkoff win. 

The next day, a Victor Martinez bobblehead promotion was planned for Game 104. Despite V-Mart’s departure the bobbleheads were distributed as planned. Six days later, the promotional team went ahead with a Victor Martinez chest protector backpack giveaway–a case study in why not to schedule player-specific promotions the week after the trade deadline. 

Baseball Reference Box Score


Game 53

June 1, 2007 – 5 Run Comeback – Both Roberto Hernandezes Pitch

Fausto Carmona started this game against the Tigers Mike Maroth. The Tigers jumped on the board early with a leadoff triple by Curtis Granderson to open the game and RBI singles by Placido Palanco and Sean Casey.

The Tigers led by four runs at three different points in the game: after a two-run home run by left fielder Craig Monroe in the top of the 6th; after the they manufactured four runs on three hits off Indians relievers Tom Mastny and Aaron Fultz; and after Fernando Cabrera walked in a run and Omar Infante had an RBI single off Roberto Hernandez in the top of the 9th.

Indians entered the bottom of the 9th down 11-7. The Tigers sent in closer Todd Jones. After a leadoff groundout by Grady Sizemore, Casey Blake singled and Jones walked Travis Hafner on five pitches. With runners on first and second, Victor Martinez launched one to deep left field for a three-run home run.

David Dellucci

Jhonny Perralta doubled, and Ryan Garko struck out. With two outs, Jones intentionally walked Trot Nixon to set up the force out. Josh Barfield drove a line drive to short right field, scoring Mike Rouse who had pinch run for Perralta. David Delluci–the ninth batter of the inning–stepped in and completed the comeback with a walkoff line drive to center field.

This was Jones’ second straight blown save on his way to a league high 11 blown saves for the season.

Looking back, it is interesting to note that the pitchers who recorded the first and last outs for the Indians were both named Roberto Hernandez. Of course, we did not know that at the time.

Roberto “Fausto Carmona” Hernandez

The baseball world would later learn that starter Fausto Carmona had committed identity fraud and was actually Roberto Hernandez–and three years older than previously reported.

Roberto “Roberto Hernandez” Hernandez

The Roberto Hernandez who recorded out #27 was Roberto Hernandez the former All-Star who appeared in 28 games in relief for the Indians in the twilight of his 17-year MLB career. Luckily the Tribe offense was geared up to make up for the miscues of both Hernandezes on this evening.

Baseball Reference Box Score


Game 46

May 25, 2009 – Memorial Day Miracle

The Indians started Memorial Day 2009 with a disappointing 17-28 record in last place in the AL Central. The Rays were fresh off their surprise appearance in the 2008 World Series, but were also scuffling early in the season. They arrived in Cleveland playing exactly .500 baseball.

Although Progressive Field was customarily unkind to the Rays–they had lost 14 straight at the corner of Carnegie and Ontario–things seemed to be trending upward at the start. The Rays had recalled David Price, who had blossomed in the 2008 playoff run, from AAA Durham to match up with Fausto Carmona.

Fausto pitched a 1-2-3 inning to lead off the game, but lost his control in the second. He walked the first four batters and forced in a run before finally striking out Dioner Navarro. He then gave up consecutive RBI singles and walked Evan Longoria before Eric Wedge made the call to the bullpen.

Jensen Lewis took the mound with the bases loaded and got out of the jam, but not before the score sat at 5-0. The Rays would add on in the third with a two-run shot by Gabe Gross. Lewis’ afternoon ended after he led off the top of the fourth with two consecutive walks and then gave up an RBI single to Carlos Pena. The Rays would score two more runs off Rich Rundles (in his only MLB appearance of 2009) bringing the score to 10-0 Rays.

The Indians began to chip away in the bottom of the fourth with a two-run home run by Ryan Garko. David Price was on a strict pitch count, and was pulled in favor of Lance Cormier partway through the bottom of the fourth. Reddit user /u/OhioIT who was at this game shared his recollection with me, “If it wasn’t for an Indians home run in the 4th inning to give me a little hope, I might have left the stadium after the 7th inning like many people did that day. In the 8th we finally started hitting and added a couple more runs to the board.”

The Tribe scored two more runs in the bottom of the eighth, and entered the bottom of the ninth down 10-4. Grady Sizemore led off the inning with a walk. Victor Martinez popped out, and Jhonny Perralta got a base hit. Left-hander Randy Choate was summoned from the Rays bullpen to face Shin-Soo Choo.

Choo hit a double play ball to short that should have ended the game. However, rookie shortstop Reid Brignac throw the ball wide of second base. Sizemore scored, and everyone was safe on the basepaths. Again, /u/OhioIT, “It was at this point I felt the momentum shift, and somehow the Indians had the upper hand, even being down by 5 runs!”

Grant Balfour was brought in to replace Choate. Mark DeRosa lined out to third and the Indians were down to their last out.

Ryan Garko stepped in and launched his second home run of the evening into the left field bleachers.

Asdrubral Cabrera came on to pinch hit for Matt LaPorta and drew a walk on four straight pitches.

With no further insurance, and perhaps some doubt creeping in, Rays manager Joe Maddon brought in closer Jason Isringhausen. In almost a mirror image on the beginning of the game, Isringhausen walked the first three batters he faced, forcing in Cabrera and cutting the Rays lead to one.

The eleventh batter of the inning was Victor Martinez, who was 0-5 so far on the day. On a 2-2 count, Martinez sent a ground ball back up the middle, for the Indian’s second walk-off win of the season. The Indians scored their seven runs in the ninth on only three hits, but Victor certainly made his only hit of the day count. The Rays would go on to lose 18-straight games at Progressive Field, a streak that extended until Price finally defeated the Indians on July 24, 2010

Baseball Reference Box Score