April 10, 1998
Jim Thome Walkoff HR in Home Opener
This is the final Home Opener in our series and one of the latest in Indians history. The Tribe opened the season at a blistering pace, defeating Seattle in the first two games, sweeping a weekend series in Anaheim, and then splitting 1-1 with Oakland before returning to Cleveland on April 10th.
With the near-miss disappointment of the 1997 World Series still stinging, the 1998 campaign began with great hope, and with a 7-1 record heading into the home opener sold-out Jacobs Field was electric.
The 1998 Indians would go on to lead the Central Division wire-to-wire. This is the first and only time in franchise history that the Tribe has been atop the standings for the duration of the season.
Bartolo Colon matched up with Allen Watson in the contest. The Indians got on the board early when Kenny Lofton hit a leadoff double, stole third base, and was driven home by a Shawon Dunston sacrifice fly. Later in the inning, Travis Fryman would double, scoring David Justice.
The Angels scored in the top of the second when, with runners on first and third, Norberto Martin drove a single into right field scoring Jim Edmunds.
Colon began to lose his command in the 5th. He gave up a fly-ball out to Darin Erstad, and consecutive singles to Dave Hollins and Tim Salmon. Jim Edmunds punched a ball between second and short, scoring Hollins. Salmon rounded third and a rare throwing error by Kenny Lofton allowed him to score. Paul Shuey would replace Colon later in the inning.
The game remained locked at 4-4 until the bottom of the 7th inning, when David Justice hit a line drive single into short right field, scoring Omar Vizquel.
In the top of the 9th, Indians reliever Michael Jackson hit Dave Hollins with an 0-2 pitch to lead off the inning. A Jim Edmunds double put Hollins on third. Cecil Fielder grounded one back to the pitcher, catching Jim Edmunds in a P-3B-C-SS-3B rundown. Damon Mashore came in to pinch run for Fielder at 3B and was driven in by Garrett Anderson to tie the game.
Eric Plunk retired the Angels in order in the 10th. In the bottom of the 10th, Jim Thome clubbed a 1-1 pitch onto the home run porch in left field. Thome would go on to be the Indians all-time home run leader with 317, and would finish his Hall of Fame career with an MLB record 13 walk-off home runs (9 with the Indians).