Game 121

August 20, 1992 – Indians Spoil Tapani’s 3-Hitter with Sorrento Walkoff

The Indians started Rod Nichols against Twins workhorse Kevin Tapani on this Thursday night. The Twins were 6 games back in the AL West, but had a talented core. The Tribe were out of contention in the AL East, but young players like Albert Belle, Sandy Alomar, Paul Sorrento, and Jim Thome were beginning to make some noise. 

Tapani pitched masterfully, holding the Indians hitless through six innings. The only Cleveland baserunner was Paul Sorrento who drew a walk in the bottom of the second. 

Nichols scattered a hit or two in nearly every inning, but managed to escape too much damage. The Twins only run came in the top of the fifth when Chuck Knoblauch drove a double into right field. After Randy Bush advanced Knoblauch to third on a groundout, Kirby Puckett sent him home with a double down the right field line.

Tapani continued to guard the 1-0 lead. In the bottom of the seventh “Hard Hittin’” Mark Whiten took the first pitch of the inning deep over the Muni Stadium wall to tie the game 1-1. Tapani then retired the next nine Indians to send the game to extra innings. 

Eric Plunk took over on the mound for the Tribe with two out in the eighth and gave up only two hits in 2 ⅓ innings of work. He held on to the tie and gave the Indians a shot in the bottom of the tenth. 

Carlos Baerga flied out for the first out of the inning. Tapani issued a six-pitch walk to Albert Belle to give the Indians their first baserunner since the top of the fifth. Paul Sorrento stepped in and slapped a line drive down the left field line. Belle motored around from first to score the winning run. 

Tapani was the ultimate hard-luck loser. He went 10 innings, gave up only three hits and two walks. The Twins supported him with eleven hits, but could not push them across the plate. The Twins left eight men on base and were a miserable 2 for 11 with runners in scoring position. 

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Game 75

June 28, 1992 – Indians Comeback Win After Jacobs Field Groundbreaking

The corner of Carnegie and Ontario did not always look like it does today. This 1927 map from the Cleveland Public Library archive shows the tangle of eastside streetcar lines converging on the Central Market before heading north to Public Square.

This 1951 aerial photograph shows the dense neighborhood of offices and warehouses that formerly stood where the ballpark is now.

For a more detailed look, check out this interactive map from the Cleveland Public Library.

In May 1990, Cuyahoga County voters narrowly approved the “Sin Tax” which charged 1.9 cents on a can of beer and 4.5 cents on a pack of cigarettes for 15 years. This revenue stream opened the door for the creation of the Gateway Economic Development Corporation and the construction of both Jacobs Field and Gund Arena.

On June 28, 1992, the Indians invited Mel Harder who had thrown the first pitch in Municipal Stadium to throw a ceremonial first pitch at the Jacobs Field construction site. Charles Nagy and Sandy Alomar Jr. were the battery representing the new Indians that would move into the new stadium at the start of 1994.

After the speeches and photo opportunities at the construction site, Dennis Cook started against Jack Morris and the Blue Jays back down on the Lakefront at Municipal Stadium.

It was a high-scoring affair. Joe Carter and John Olerud both homered off Cook in the first inning, giving the Jays a 3-0 advantage out of the gate.

The Tribe answered by sending all nine batters to the plate in the bottom of the first and plating four runs. Carlos Baerga extended the lead to 5-3 in the bottom of the second with an RBI single.

Joe Carter tied things up in the top of the seventh with a two run single into short left field. Jeff Kent put the Jays on top in the top of the 8th with a solo home run off Steve Olin.

With leadoff man Alex Cole on second, Paul Sorrento socked a home run over the center field wall in the bottom of the eighth to put the Tribe up 7-6.

Eric Plunk pitched a 1-2-3 ninth to earn a save and close out a celebratory day in Indians history.

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Honorable Mention: June 28, 2010 – Travis Hafner Scores Winning Run on Jayson Nix Squeeze Bunt

Nix said. “I think I’ve done it in the minors, but this definitely was the first time in the majors for me. I needed to make sure I didn’t square too early to tell them it was coming, and I needed to get it down. He threw a fastball, which made it easier.”

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Game 34

June 4, 1995 – Paul Sorrento Completes 9-run Comeback

The Blue Jays (still considered the defending Champions, since there were no playoffs in 1994) were wrapping up a weekend series in Cleveland. The pitching match up did not set up favorably, with reigning Cy Young winner David Cone pitching for the Jays against Jason Grimsley. Grimsley was making his second start of the year in the fifth starter role recently vacated by Mark Clark.

Grimsley got off to a dismal start by walking the first three batters he faced. Joe Carter then plated two runs with a single to left field and John Olerud knocked in another. Roberto Alomar bunted to advance the runners, and was followed by a three-run home run by Shawn Green. Grimsley walked Ed Sprague while Chad Ogea was getting warm in the bullpen.

Sprague scored on a Devon White sacrifice fly before Ogea was able to right the ship. At the end of the first, the Tribe found themselves in a 7-0 hole.

Cone mowed through the Indians, facing only seven batters in the first two innings, and the Jays added an insurance run on a sacrifice hit by Devon White in the top of the third.

The Tribe began the long climb back in the bottom of the third, when Omar Vizquel scored Wayne Kirby on a two-out single to left field. Ogea found his footing and retired the Jays in order in both the 4th and 5th innings.

Eddie Murray cut the lead to three with a two-run home run in the bottom of the 5th. After Albert Belle singled in backup catcher Eddie Tucker (in his 17 game cup of coffee with the Tribe) David Cone’s day was done.

Jay’s reliever Tony Castillo held on to the 8-6 lead until the bottom of the 9th. After Carlos Baerga was thrown out attempting to bunt, Castillo was pulled for Darren Hall. Albert Belle dropped a single into short center field, starting the late night rally. Eddie Murray singled to right, advancing Belle to third. Alvaro Espinoza was brought in to pinch-run for Murray. Espinoza was forced out at second when Jim Thome grounded out to short. However, Belle scored on the groundout, cutting the Jay’s lead to one.

Paul Sorrento rocked the first pitch he faced to right field. The breeze was blowing in, and appeared to knock it down a bit. However, it cleared the right field wall and set off the first walkoff celebration of the 1995 season.

In a post-game interview, Sorrento commented on the homer,

“The wind was blowing in. I got a good pitch and I just killed it.  “I thought I may have celebrated too early because it barely went out—it was only like the first or second row. …I just remember thinking, ‘Please go out, because I’m going to look like an idiot if it doesn’t.’ It ended up just capping off a great team win. We never gave up.”

Sorrento’s contributions to the 1995 World Series run are often overlooked. Over the first six weeks of the season he slashed  .303/.394/.775. Over 104 appearances, he hit .235 with 25 home runs for the season providing solid protection for the likes of Jim Thome and Manny Ramirez hitting in the 5 and 6 holes.

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