Game 132

August 29, 2007 – Sabathia vs Santana – Indians Beat Reigning Cy Young for 4th Time in Season

This Wednesday night matchup was billed as a faceoff between two pitching titans. CC Sabathia was at the peak of his pitching prowess. Johan Santana was the 2016 Cy Young winner and had mowed down major league lineups for years. However, the Indians had beat him three times already in 2007, mostly by hitting a lot of home runs. 

Santana came into Progressive Field with a 14-10 record. Sabathia entered the game with a 15-7 record. Both were on the AL All-Star squad earlier in the summer. 

Sabathia struggled a bit in the early going. He faced six Twins in the first inning, but managed to get out of the inning with the score still 0-0. 

Grady Sizemore led off the Indians half of the first with a single. Hitting second, the rookie Asdrubal Cabrera deposited Santana’s 3-1 pitch just over the 19 foot wall in left for his second ever major league home run. After a Travis Hafner groundout, Victor Martinez put one on the home run porch in left field. After a Ryan Garko groundout, Franklin Gutierrez doubled, and then was driven in by a Kenny Lofton single. Casey Blake grounded out to end the inning, but it was quickly 4-0 Tribe.  

Although Santana struggled with his velocity, he did not allow more than one hit per inning until he was pulled in the sixth after 104 pitches. He did record his 200th strikeout of the season. 

CC held the Twins scoreless until the top of the fifth, when Torii Hunter drove in Jason Tyner to erase the shutout. Sabathia went six innings giving up two runs on seven hits and two walks. Jensen Lewis came on to pitch the seventh and retired the Twins in order.

Rafael Betancourt pitched the eighth for the Indians. Mike Redmond touched him up for one run, driving in Rondell white who had previously doubled. Closer Joe Borowski put the tying run on base when Jason Tyner knocked a single through the right side of the infield, but a pop-foul and a game-ending double play took care of the Twins. 

This was the fourth time in the season that the Tribe had handed Santana a loss. The following Monday in Minnesota, Sabathia and Santana would face off again. The Indians had Johan’s number again with a 5-0 victory in Game 137. Overall on the season, the Tribe were 14-4 against the Twins and 5-0 against the reigning Cy Young winner.

Baseball Reference Box Score


Game 74

June 20, 2008 – Borowski Blows Save, Credited with Win

The Indians were visiting the Dodgers in Chavez Ravine for an interleague game with a most compelling pitching matchup. Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw would go on to win three Cy Youngs and an MVP award. The Indians were throwing Cliff Lee would go on to win the AL Cy Young in the 2008 season. However, neither accomplished pitcher would end up with the win this evening.

Indians took a 4-0 lead into the bottom of the eighth courtesy of a two-run homer by catcher Kelly Shoppach in the top of the third and RBI hits by Casey Blake and Jhonny Perralta.

After a groundout by Juan Pierre to lead off the first, Cliff Lee gave up a line drive single to Matt Kemp. Lee’s pitch count was at 104, so manager Eric Wedge made the call to the bullpen.

Things unravelled quickly as Rafael Betancourt gave up an RBI double to Jeff Kent. Rafi was replaced on the mound by Rafael Perez, who gave up a single to James Loney scoring Kent. Perez was able to get out of the 8th with the score 4-2.

Dodgers reliever Cory Wade quickly shut down the Indians in the ninth, using only eleven pitches to retire Shoppach, Delucci, and Sizemore.

Indians closer Joe Borowski came in to pitch the Dodgers half of the ninth. Angel Berroa sent Borowski’s second pitch into right field for a single and Russel Martin followed with a double. Borowski struck out pinch hitter Blake DeWitt, but then gave up and RBI single to Juan Pierre.

Pierre stole second, and Borowski intentionally walked Matt Kemp to load the bases and set up the double play. Jeff Kent grounded one to the shortstop and was put out, but not before Martin crossed the plate for the tying run. Because he entered the game with a two-run lead and gave up the tying run, Borowski was charged statistically with a blown save.

With two outs in the top of the tenth, Jhonny Perralta knocked a double into right field, scoring Ryan Garko and Franklin Guttierez.

Masahide Kobayashi came to the mound to try and hold on to the Indians lead. Kobayashi was one of three players to record 200+ saves in Japanese professional baseball. In 2008, the Indians brought Kobayashi to Cleveland to convert him to an MLB closer.

Kobayashi retired the Dodgers side, giving up only one hit to Russell Martin. He was awarded the save. This was his fourth of six saves in his MLB career. Selfishly, I wish that he had worked out, because I loved hearing Tom Hamilton say “Kobayashi.”

After blowing the initial save opportunity, Borowski was awarded the win because the Indians scored the winning run while he was the pitcher of record. This is an interesting statistical twist–wins are generally considered a negative statistic for closers, because it generally indicates that they blew a save. For more on Blown Save Wins and a modest proposal to fix them, visit Wendy Thurm’s piece for FanGraphs.

Borowski led the American League in saves in 2007 and contributed greatly to the Indians playoff run, but clearly did not have his best stuff in 2008. He was designated for assignment a few weeks later on July 4th.

Baseball Reference Box Score

Honorable Mention: July 6, 1956 – Jim Busby Hits Grand Slams in Consecutive Games

The first came in an 7-13 loss to the Tigers. The second came in a 6-4 win against the KC Athletics. He is one of 23 MLB players in history to hit grand slams in consecutive games–and the only Indian.

Baseball Reference Box Score


Game 4

April 6, 2007 – Home Opener Snowed Out, Later Played in Milwaukee

Indians starter Paul Byrd took the mound after a one-hour and ten minute delay into a driving snowstorm. To the TV viewer’s eye, there was little difference in the conditions during and after the delay. Evidently, the umpires thought that they saw some relief in the radar signature. Byrd was working on a no-hitter through four innings, certainly assisted by the falling snow.

With two outs and two strikes in the top of the fourth, Mariners manager Mike Hargrove exited the dugout to make his case with the umpire crew. He urged that the game be delayed because his batters could not see the ball against the white background of swiftly-falling snow.

At this point–one-strike away from being an official game–the game was delayed. The sell-out crowd remained in the stands building snowmen for another hour and seventeen minutes. With no improvement in the weather in sight, the game (and eventually the entire series) was called due to weather. With over a foot of snow coating the field, the Mariners series was re-scheduled to open dates throughout the season. The 10-day forecast indicated that the April 10th game against the Angels was in jeopardy as well. MLB began looking for an alternate site for the series against the Angels.

On April 10th, flatbed trucks were busy removing snow from Jacob’s Field. 500 miles away in Milwaukee, over 19,000 fans came to Miller Park in Milwaukee to see the Indians “Home Opener.” The Indians did all that they could to bring the home field advantage to Wisconsin: John Adams was in the crowd with his drum, the staff had loaded the Indians hype videos and walkup music into Miller Park’s systems, and Slider took a ride down Bernie Brewer’s famous slide.

The game itself was a fairly standard affair. Kelly Shoppach hit a home run off Ervin Santana in the bottom of the 2nd. The Angels threatened several times, but CC Sebathia had a solid outing holding the Angels to only three runs through seven innings. The Angels scored two runs in the 8th and pulled within one when Casey Kochman scored Garrett Anderson on a two-out single in the bottom of the 9th against closer Joe Borowski. Eric Eybar came in as a pinch runner for Casey Kotchman who was on second. On a 1-1 pitch, Shoppach caught Eybar stealing to end the game.

After all of the drama of the last five days and a memorable win, all the Indians wanted to talk about in the post-game interviews was the Milwaukee crowd. “I thought it would be like five, maybe 500,” Borowski said. “I thought it would be like an American Legion game. I mean, come on, less than 24 hours’ notice? I didn’t think anyone would be here.”