August 31, 2004 – Omar Notches Six Hits in Historic 22-0 Rout of the Yankees
A sellout crowd of over 51,000 packed Yankee stadium for this Tuesday night tilt between Jake Westbrook and Javier Vazquez. The Indians were just above .500 and were trailing the Twins by seven games in the Central. The Yankees were leading the AL East, but their record had suffered throughout the month of August and doubt was starting to creep into the clubhouse and owner’s suite.
Travis Hafner hit a bases-clearing triple in the top of the first to put the Tribe up 3-0. In the top of the second, Ronnie Belliard bounced one over the wall for a ground rule double. Vizquel later singled for his second hit of the game and drove in Belliard. After Matt Lawton drove in another run with a single to right, Vazquez left the mound to a chorus of boos. This 1 ⅓ inning was the shortest outing of his career as a starter. All told, the Tribe scored another three runs on three hits in the second putting the score at 6-0.
In the top of the third, the Indians scored another three runs including two off a Vizquel double. This was his third hit of the game, and perhaps should have been an out. Kenny Lofton–at this point with the Yankees–mis-played the ball, which hit off the top of the center field wall.
Westbrook retired the first 11 Yankee batters, including strikeouts of Bernie Williams, Jorge Posada, and John Olerud on his first trip through the lineup. The Yankees were looking at a nine run deficit before Gary Sheffield doubled into left for New York’s first hit.
Yankee reliever Tanyon Sturtz found his command in the bottom of the fourth and retired the Indians side in order. However; the Indians offense broke out again in the top of the fifth. Broussard and Belliard hit consecutive doubles to lead off the inning. Coco Crisp jacked a two-run homer off Sturtz. After Vizquel singled into left-center (4 for 4 at this point), Sturtz was pulled in favor of C.J. Nitkowski. Nitkowski gave up another three runs, and the Indians were ahead 15-0.
Omar added his fifth hit of the game in the top of the sixth with an RBI double off Nitkowski.
Esteban Loaiza came on to pitch the top of the seventh and would stay on for the final three innings of the game. He held the Tribe scoreless in the seventh. In the top of the eighth, Omar slapped a single through Loaiza’s legs and into center field. This was his record-tying sixth hit in a nine-inning game. Not bad for a player known primarily for his defense.
After a John McDonald groundout to lead off the top of the ninth, Josh Phelps and Ronnie Belliard hit consecutive singles. Jody Gerut stepped in and launched Loaiza’s 2-0 pitch into the seats. After Coco Crisp walked, Omar had an opportunity to claim his sole place in the record-books. He hit a liner sharply down the right-field line, but his old teammate Kenny Lofton was there to track it down. 102 MLB players since 1901 have collected six hits in a nine-inning game. No one has ever recorded the seventh.
Ryan Ludwick knocked a two-out single into center to advance Crisp to third, and Victor Martinez stepped in. Victor smashed Loaiza’s first pitch over the wall for the sixth run of the inning. Travis Hafner struck out to end the inning with the score 22-0.
Jeremy Guthrie retired the Yankees in order to put a finish to the most lopsided shutout since 1900 and the most runs allowed by the Yankees at home ever.
The loss far overshadowed the franchise’s two past 18-run defeats: June 17, 1925 against the Tigers and against the Indians in League Park in Game 101 of the 1928 Season.
The New York fans and media were in full panic mode, as the Red Sox were surging in the standings while the Yankees suffered an August collapse. This loss brought the Sox within 3 ½ games of the AL East lead. However, Alex Rodriguez quipped, “The way Cleveland played tonight, we’d better worry about Cleveland, not about Boston.”