Game 124

August 23, 1986 – Andre Thornton Game-Winning Pinch Hit

The 1986 Indians were playing just above .500 ball, but were just one game out of last place in the American League East. A crowd of over 40,000 came down to the Lakefront to see the first place Red Sox. Knuckleballer Tom Candiotti was starting against Tom Seaver in the marquee pitching matchup of the weekend. 

In the top of the third, Wade Boggs struck first for the Red Sox with a solo home run off Candiotti. 

The Tribe bounced back in the bottom of the third when Brook Jacoby led off the inning with a single. Seaver walked Tribe catcher Chris Bando. Jacoby advanced to third on a fielder’s choice and was driven home on a Julio Franco single. Joe Carter hit another single, putting runners on second and third with one out. Mel Hall grounded out, but Tony Bernazard hustled home to give the Indians a 2-1 lead. 

The Indians extended their lead in both the fourth and fifth innings. An RBI single by Chris Bando and a solo home run by Joe Carter, respectively gave the Indians a 4-1 lead after 5. 

The Tribe threatened again in the bottom of the sixth. They chased Seaver from the game with consecutive singles by Jacoby and Bando. Sammy Steward replaced Seaver and walked the first batter he faced to load the bases. Julio Franco hit into a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning. 

Candiotti gave up a double to Marty Barrett and a walk to Jim Rice in the top of the eighth. Ernie Camacho was brought in for relief. Camacho walked Don Baylor to load the bases. Dwight Evans singled to drive in a run, and then Rice scored on a Bill Buckner groundout to cut the Indians’ lead to 1 run. 

Rich Gedman got aboard with a leadoff double in the top of the ninth and advanced to third on a groundout. Wade Boggs lofted a fly into foul territory in left field. Mel Hall put Boggs out on the fly, but Romero tagged up to win the game. 

Bob Stanley came in to pitch the bottom of the ninth for the Sox and he brought his gas can to the mound. Chris Bando drew a walk. Tony Bernazard singled. Julio Franco hit into a fielders choice, leaving runners at first and second. Joe Carter singled to load the bases. Tribe Manager Pat Corrales called on Thunder Thornton to pinch hit. Andre knocked a game-winning single for a 5-4 final score. 

Throughout the 1980s, Thornton was one of the most beloved ballplayers in Cleveland. He was a prolific home run hitter and run producer on a team that was often mediocre at best. Thornton played 11 seasons for the Indians, mostly as a DH. During his tenure, the Tribe finished above .500 just three times. 

Baseball Reference Box Score


Game 115

August 14, 1987 – Tom Candiotti Knuckleballs His Way to Victory Over the Yankees

Tom Candiotti was the Indians’ Opening Day starter for 1987. Throughout the 1986 season, Phil Niekro mentored Candiotti who was making the conversion to a full-time knuckleball pitcher.

He was a bright spot on a dismal Indians team that normally dragged him down with poor run support. Coming into this mid-August game, he had a 6-11 record and the Tribe were dead last in the AL-24 ½ games behind front-running Toronto.  However, Candiotti had seen some success against the Yankees, including a one-hitter in Game 105 at Municipal Stadium two starts prior.

In this matchup, Candiotti faced former Indian Tommy John (of ligament surgery fame) in a Friday night tilt at Yankee Stadium. 

The Yankees kicked off the scoring in the bottom of the first when Don Mattingly crushed a Candiotti knuckler for a two-run home run. 

Pat Tabler and Corey Snider singled in the top of the second. Tommy John walked Brook Jacoby to load the bases. This brought up Indians catcher Andy Allanson who poked a single into left field. Tabler and Snider crossed the plate to tie the game at 2-2.

Gary Ward led off the Yankee’s half of the second with a double. Catcher and future Indians coach Joel Skinner scored Ward with a sacrifice fly to right. 

The Tribe re-took the lead on a two-run single by Brett Butler in the top of the fourth that chased John from the game. Reliever Brad Arnsburg quelled the threat. 

Dan Pasqua led off the top of the fifth with another homer of Candiotti. Later in the inning with runners at first and third Don Mattingly put the Yankees ahead again 5-4 with an RBI single. 

Brook Jacoby put the Indians ahead for good in the top of the eighth with a solo home run off Arnsburg. Jacoby finished the night with three runs on three hits, one walk, and two RBI. Doug Jones pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning to record his fourth save of the season. 

Candiotti pitched 7 ⅔ innings, and gave up five runs on nine hits but was good enough to beat the Yankees in their second straight matchup. Candiotti continued throwing the knuckler into the 1999 season. By then he had passed the torch to Tim Wakefield as the only knuckle-first pitcher in the league. 

Baseball Reference Box Score