Game 134

September 2, 2006Kevin Kouzmanoff Hits Grand Slam on First Pitch in the Show

Both the Indians and Rangers were playing out the string by September of 2006. Cliff Lee was matched up with Edison Volquez for this Saturday night contest. Despite the lack of playoff implications, the 40,000+ at Ameriquest Field in Arlington were treated to something that had never happened before in MLB history. 

Grady Sizemore led off the game with a home run. Left fielder Jason Michaels singled to left. After a fly-out by Victor Martinez and a Ryan Garko strikeout, MIchaels stole second with Casey Blake at the plate. Blake eventually walked. Volquez then walked Jhonny Perralta to load the bases. 

This brought up Kevin Kouzmanoff. He had been hitting nearly .380 at AA Akron and AAA Buffalo throughout 2006. The Indians top prospect had been called up to the big league team approximately 10PM the night before. Kouzmanoff’s family had scrambled to make it to Texas from his hometown in Colorado.

Kouzmanoff stepped in against Volquez and crushed his very first pitch to center field into the batter’s eye lawn. He was the first player ever to hit a grand slam on his first swing.

He later told reporters, “I’m walking up to the plate, I figured, ‘Great, I’m a rookie, bases loaded, here we go. I’m nervous, everyone is here to watch, my family. But then I thought, ‘Hey, I’ve got nothing to lose.’ Just be aggressive and swing the bat if I get a good pitch.”

Only two players had hit grand slams in their first at-bat: Bill Duggleby for the Phillies in 1898, and Jeremy Hermida for the Marlins in 2005. 

Second baseman Hector Luna popped out to end the frame with the Indians up 5-0. 

In the top of the second, Grady Sizemore scored on a sac fly by Victor Martinez. From this point on, the game would be in the hands of the Tribe pitching staff. 

Cliff Lee gave up two runs on two hits in the bottom of the second, and another two runs on three hits in the bottom of the sixth. Overall, Lee pitched seven strong innings, giving up only those four runs on seven hits and striking out four. 

The Rangers threatened to spoil Kouzmanoff’s record-setting night in the bottom of the ninth. Gerald Laird got aboard with a bunt single against reliever Tom Mastny. Mastny gave up a double to Ian Kinsler that put Laird on third. Nelson Cruz grounded out for the first out of the inning. Gary Matthews hit a line drive single into the right field that scored Laird easily. Kinsler attempted to score from second to tie the game, but was punched out on a great throw from Casey Blake to Victor Martinez. MIchael Young lined one back to Mastny who caught it to seal the final out and the victory. 

In 2010, Daniel Nava joined Kouz in the first-pitch grand slam record book. Kouzmanoff played 16 games for the Indians before being traded to San Diego after the 2006 season. 

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Game 127

August 26, 2016 – Guyer Hit by Pitch Twice in Rout of Rangers

Nearly 32,000 packed the Ballpark in Arlington to watch the first-place Indians take on the Rangers on this summer Friday night. Corey Kluber was matched up with Martin Perez. 

Jason Kipnis kicked off the scoring in the top of the third when he punched a grounder into right field that scored Roberto Perez from first. 

In the top of the sixth with Mike Napoli on third, Brandon Guyer was struck by Martin Perez’ 0-1 pitch. Abe Almonte doubled into deep left center to clear the bases and put the Tribe up 5-0. Roberto Perez singled in Almonte to chase Martin Perez from the game. Dario Alvarez retired Rajai Davis for the final out of the inning. 

Alvarez hit Guyer to lead off the top of the eighth. After consecutive singles by Almonte and Perez, Alvarez was replaced by Rangers reliever Keone Kela. Kela hit Rajai Davis with his fourth pitch to drive in Guyer. After a Jason Kipnis pop-fly, Almonte scored on a wild pitch. 

In the top of the ninth, Guyer finally got on base by making bat on ball contact. He dropped a single into short right field, and later scored on a Roberto Perez single. The Tribe routed the Rangers 12-1 and drew within two games of Texas for the best record in the American League. 

The two hit-by-pitches brought Guyer’s total on the season to 27. Sportswriter Jordan Bastian posted this amazing diagram to his Twitter account.

Guyer’s plate-crowding stance and high-step with his lead foot play into all of the lower-body bruises.  His final stat line: four runs scored with one hit in three official at bats.

Guyer said. “When it’s upper — head or upper body — I’ll move. I’ll throw my arms up or get out of the way. But lower body, I’ve always been that way with getting hit. That’s how it’s been the last three years in the big leagues, and college and the Minor Leagues. It’s just instinctual.”

August Fragerstrom of Frangraphs ran the numbers and found that Guyer was hit by pitch at a higher rate–in nearly 6% of his at-bats–than any player in modern baseball history. 

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Game 69

July 6, 1972 – Graig Nettles Walkoff Hit

Although most famous for his years with the Yankees, Graig Nettles had some very solid years early in his career in Cleveland. In 1970, he led the league in fielding percentage of .967 and hit 26 home runs.

By 1972, he was a fixture at third base for the Tribe and a solid hitter in the heart of the lineup. He was once again playing third base and hitting fifth when the Rangers came to visit Muni Stadium on this Thursday night in July.

Although the Indians scored first on an RBI single to right field by Chris Chambliss in the bottom of the first, the Tribe soon found themselves in a hole.

Texas second year shortstop (and later Indians All-Star) Toby Harrah had a big night with four hits in six plate appearances, plus a stolen base. Those four hits included a solo home run in the top of the third, and an RBI single in the top of the fifth.

In the middle of the eighth, the Rangers led 5-2 and appeared to be on course to victory. However; in the bottom of the eighth, catcher Jerry Moses homered with Nettles on first to cut the Rangers lead to 5-4.

Tribe reliever Ed Farmer pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning against the top of the Texas order.

In the bottom of the ninth, John Lowenstein walked and advanced to second on a passed ball. Chris Chambliss sent him home with a two-out double to left center, tying the game at 5.

Indians reliever Ed Farmer continued to chew through the Rangers lineup. Allowing only three baserunners from the ninth to twelfth innings.

Chris Chambliss flied out second to lead off the bottom of the twelfth. Alex Johnson singled to right. Graig Nettles dropped a double into centerfield, scoring the speedy Johnson from first for the walkoff win.

Later in 1972, rumors began to swirl about a potential trade with the Yankees. Nettles made it clear that he would be pleased to be traded to a team that was able to contend. Indians General Manage Gabe Paul attempted to squash the trade rumors. “Nettles is a hell of a player and we have no intention of trading him; he’s not involved in anything we are now talking about,”

Shortly after the season ended, he was dealt to the Yankees along with catcher Jerry Moses  for outfield prospect Charlie Spikes, catcher John Ellis, infielder Jerry Kenney, and outfielder Rusty Torres. Also in the 1972 off season, a group led by George Steinbrenner purchased the Yankees. Gabe Paul was a minority investor in the Steinbrenner group, which raised more than a few suspicious of collusion.

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Game 64

June 9, 2014 – Lonnie Chisenhall 15 Total Bases

Rocky Colavito…Luke Easter…Victor Martinez…Joe Carter…Lonnie Chisenhall??

Despite the pantheon of great all-around hitters that came before him, a solid case can be made that Lonnie Chisenhall had the best night of hitting in Tribe history on June 9, 2014.

The Indians were visiting the Rangers and facing Nick Martinez. With one out and runners on second and third in the bottom of the first inning, Chisenhall knocked a line drive single into center field. This pushed Cabrera across the plate and contributed to a three run, two hit inning.

The Rangers got one run back in the bottom of the first, but the Indians offense kept rolling. After a solo home run by George Kottaras and a two RBI single to right by Jason Kipnis, Lonnie launched a powerful line drive that cleared the right field wall for a two run home run.

In the top of the fourth, he sent a towering solo home run into center field, once again scoring Kipnis.

The Rangers scored two in the bottom of the fourth off TJ House to make the score 12-6.

In the top of the 6th Lonnie once again drove a ball to center. This one stayed in the yard, but Michael Brantley was able to score from first.

Finally, in the top of the eighth with runners on first and third Lonnie uncorked a line drive down the right field line. It cleared the wall for his third home run–and ninth RBI of the night.

The final stat line had the Indians on top 17 to 7 with eighteen hits.

He became the fourth player in MLB history with 5 or more hits, 3 HR, and 9 or more RBI in a game. The last to do it was Fred Lynn for the Red Sox in 1975.

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Game 47

May 26, 1993 – Martinez Home Run off Canseco’s Head

The 1990s were the prime years of blooper videos. Prior to viral videos and instant analysis I can remember waiting for the Sportscenter “Not Top 10” to see that week’s gaffes and miscues. One clip that will always make an all-time compilation of baseball bloopers is Carlos Martinez hit a long fly ball to the warning track in Municipal Stadium.

Rangers right fielder Jose Canseco raced onto the track and threw up a glove. He evidently mis-judged the ball, because it hit him square on the top of the head and bounced over the outfield wall. Martinez circled the bases, and the Indians later went on to win 7-6.

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Honorable Mention: May 21, 2014 – Walk-Off Balk in the 13th Inning

In this 5 hour see-saw battle of a game, the Tribe and Tigers exchanged blows for 13 innings.

David Murphy tied the game with a two-run home run in the bottom of the 9th off Tigers closer Joe Nathan.

In the top of the 13th, the Tigers took the lead when Alex Avila launched a home run on the first pitch he saw from Josh Tomlin–the ninth Indians pitcher to work that day. In the bottom of the thirteenth, Michael Brantley tied the game with an RBI single to left field. David Murphy grounded out, and Al Albuquerque was brought in from the Tiger’s bullpen. Albuquerqe intentionally walked Yan Gomes to load the bases and pitch to Ryan Rayburn.

On the way to the 1-0 pitch, Albuquerque started his throwing motion and stopped to reset. Home plate umpire Craig Gibson immediately called the balk, and awarded first base to Rayburn, forcing in Asdrubal Cabrera to end the game in a most unlikely fashion.

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Game 39

May 17, 1996 – Manny Ramirez Pinch-Hit Home Run

The Indians came into this weekend series with the Rangers riding a five-game winning streak. Orel Hershiser matched up with Kevin Gross in front of a sold out Friday night crowd.

At the end of three innings, the score stood at 2-1 Tribe. Things went sideways for Hershiser in the top of the 4th. Texas scored five runs on six straight hits, including four doubles. After Kevin Elster’s double, Joe Roa was summoned from the bullpen. Roa gave up the sixth run of the inning on a line-drive single by Pudge Rodriguez, but otherwise was able to stop the bleeding.

In the top of the 5th, Roa would walk Mark McLemore and then give up back to back doubles to Kevin Elster and Darryl Hamilton. Alan Embree replaced Roa and secured the last out of the 5th, leaving the score at 9-2 Rangers and leaving the fans wondering if they would see some Jacobs Field comeback magic.

The Tribe began to close the gap in the top of the 5th, with a sacrifice fly by Kenny Lofton followed by an RBI single by Julio Franco.

Embree battled through the top of the 6th, striking out the Rangers side in order on 19 total pitches. Leading off the bottom of the 6th, Eddie Murray chased Gross from the game after he sent a home run over the wall in right-center on a full count.

Dennis Cook replaced Gross, and quickly struck out Jim Thome. At this point, Manny Ramirez was brought in to pinch hit for right fielder Jeromy Burnitz. Manny and Sandy Alomar were retired in order, unable to build on Murray’s energy.

Kevin Elster touched up Embree for a line-drive solo home run in the top of the 7th, leaving the score total 10-5 Rangers.

With two outs in the bottom of the 7th and Kenny Lofton on first, Carlos Baerga hit a bloop single into short right field. Lofton reached third on a throwing error. With Baerga on first and Lofton on third, Albert Belle singled to center, sending Lofton home. Next, Eddie Murray stepped in and knocked an almost identical single to center driving in Baerga.

Reliever Ed Vosburg was brought in to face Jim Thome, and was immediately replaced by Gil Heredia after walking Thome.

Heredia headed to the mound and immediately got behind in the count to Manny Ramirez. Manny drove one into the bleachers. Manny’s grand slam put the Tribe ahead 11-10.

Albert Belle would later drive in Lofton for an insurance run. Jose Mesa secured the save, and the 1990s Indians kept on rolling.

Manny is regarded as one of the best clutch hitters of all time. He was masterful with runners on base. Ramirez hit thirteen grand slams over his eight-year career with the Indians. Over his entire career, he recorded twenty-one, which is third on the all-time list only behind Alex Rodriguez (25) and Lou Gerhig (23). The closest active player is Albert Pujols with fourteen.


Game 29

May 2, 2018 – Encarnacion’s Three Homer Afternoon

This game is the first in the series that I saw in person. Driving home from a late day at work Tuesday night, Tom Hamilton was previewing the next day’s game. “Wednesday afternoon. Beautiful Spring weather. Corey Kluber on the mound. Be here if you can find a way.”

I couldn’t agree more. In my estimation, one of the best feelings in the world is standing at the bus stop with a half day of work behind you and half a day of baseball ahead of you. So, I sent a message to my boss marking the next afternoon out.

It was a perfect early May day with temperatures in the 80s, abundant sunshine, and a stiff breeze out to right field that would certainly come into play. The previous evening, the Rangers topped the Indians 8-6 in twelve innings and appeared to be eager to get back to Texas.

Kluber came out firing, retiring the Rangers in order with strikeouts against Delino DeShields and Jurickson Profar.

Rajai Davis grounded out to lead off the game, but the Indians office got spun up quickly. Jason Kipnis lofted a double down the left field line. Francisco Lindor shot a grounder through the right side of the infield, advancing Kipnis to third. Michael Brantley scored Kipnis on another ground ball single. Edwin Encarnacion stepped in and rocked a three-run home run halfway up the bleachers. Yonder Alonso and Brandon Guyer both lined out to end the inning.

My cousin and I often text each other during ballgames to alert the other that exciting things are happening. He was a huge Encarnacion fan during Eddie’s tenure in Cleveland. A single-character message–the bird emoji–had become our shorthand for an Encarnacion home run, in reference to his “parrot ride” gesture. I quickly fired off a message between innings to my cousin who was still at work.

Kluber would rarely miss today, but in the top of the 2nd, Nomar Mazara caught hold of the 2-1 pitch, driving a homer to right center and making it a 4-1 game.

In the bottom of the second, Erik Gonzalez and Rajai Davis got aboard with one out. Jason Kipnis launched a home run over the right field wall for the Tribe’s second three-run home run of the game. With two outs and Lindor on second, Encarnacion sent Matt Moore’s first pitch over the right field wall in front of the bullpens. At the end of the inning I picked up my phone.

was already in my inbox.

In the top of the 3rd, Kluber once again gave up a leadoff home run–this time to Juan Centeno. The Rangers would eventually get runners to first and second, but Kluber would work his way out of the threat with the score 9-2.

Kluber retired the Rangers in order in the fourth, fifth, and sixth innings. In the seventh, he gave up yet another leadoff homerun to Joey Gallo. He would retire the next three Rangers and finish the day giving up 6 hits, three runs, and recording six strikeouts.

Dan Otero took the mound in the 8th and gave up the only run the Rangers scored by way other than the longball. Former Indian Shin-Soo Choo drove in Drew Robinson with a sharp single up the middle.

In the bottom of the 8th, Francisco Lindor would tee off into the wind, sending a home run into the bullpen.. Two batters later, with two outs in the 8th, Encarnacion ripped a third homer, once again into the bleachers.

I didn’t wait for the end of the inning this time:

Quickly a reply came in: AGAIN? I should have taken off work.

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