Game 154

September 23, 2005 – Bob Wickman Converts His 45th Save of the Season

Most closers live and die by the fastball. Bob Wickman relied on his sinker. Wickman lost part of his right index finger in a farm accident as a child. He credited the motion of his sinker to the unusual grip he adapted. A wily and strategic closer, Wickman walked batters he did not want to face rather than overpower them. His sinker was his out-pitch and so the difference between a converted save and a game-ending double-play could be a bad hop in the infield. 

The Indians were a game and a half back of the White Sox and visiting the abysmal Royals for the second-to-last weekend of the season. C.C. Sabathia was matched up with Jose Lima for the Friday night contest. 

Jose Lima retired the Tribe in order in the first inning (Limatime, BELIEVE IT!) and Chip Ambres led off the Royals half of the first by sending C.C.’s 2-2 pitch into the fountains at Kaufmann Park. 

First baseman Jose Hernandez tied things up for the Tribe with an RBI single in the bottom of the second that drove in Travis Hafner. 

The Indians broke things open in the top of the third. Grady Sizemore was hit by Lima’s second pitch. Grady stole second and then scored on a ground ball that Jhonny Perralta scorched past the shortstop. Travis Hafner teed off on Lima, sending a two-run homer over the wall to put the Indians ahead 5-1. 

The Royals would chip away at the Indians lead. Chip Ambres came into score for the Royals on a wild pitch in the third. 

Victor Martinez extended the lead to four runs with an RBI double in the top of the fifth. 

Sabathia continued to have control issues in the bottom of the fifth. He gave up a single to Andres Blanco, threw another wild pitch to Ambres, and hit Matt Diaz with a pitch to put runners at the corners. The Royals manufactured three runs in the inning to bring the score to 6-5 and chase C.C. from the game. 

Indians reliever Bob Howry blew his save opportunity when he gave up a solo homerun to Mark Teahen to tie the game in the bottom of the eighth. 

The Royals kicked it around a bit in the ninth. Grady Sizemore reached on an error and then advanced to third on a throwing error as Coco Crisp tried to beat out a grounder. Sizemore scored on a ground ball single into left off the bat of Jhonny Perralta. 

Bob Wickman entered the game looking for his 45th save. He struck out Denny Hocking swinging. Pinch hitter Aaron Guiel fell victim to Wickman’s sinker and grounded out to first. Terrance Long flied out to left on the first pitch to give the Indians the win. 

This was one of the few instances where Wickman did not put at least one runner on base. It was a rare respite for fans from the high-tension situations Wickman would build up and eventually overcome. 

In 1995, Jose Mesa converted 46 saves in 48 opportunities. Tied for second on the leaderboard for saves in a season are Wickman’s 45 in 2005 and Joe Borowski’s 45 in It 2007. Wickman chalked up 139 saves, which made him the all-time franchise leader, until he was surpassed by Cody Allen in Game 59 of 2018

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