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Game 99

August 8, 1948 (Game 2) – Eddie Robinson Leads Comeback Win Over Yankees

The Indians, Yankees, and Athletics were in a race for the American League pennant all throughout the 1948 season. A chance to see the hated Yankees always brought crowds to Municipal Stadium, but August 1948 was on another level. The four-game weekend series (including a Sunday double-header) set a three-day attendance record of 188,081 through the gates. 

The Indians had prevailed in the first game of the doubleheader with an 8-6 win led by a two-home run game by first baseman Eddie Robinson. Robinson’s second homer of the game–a two run shot off of Joe Page–sealed the victory for the Tribe. 

In the second game, the Indians threw spot starter Steve Gromek against the Yankees rookie Bob Porterfield who was making his major league debut in front of 73,000+ at Municipal Stadium. 

Steve Gromek

In the top of the fourth, Larry Doby robbed Yankees first baseman George McQuinn of a home run when he raced to the wall and timed his jump perfectly to bring the ball back into play. 

With two outs in the bottom of the fifth, Eddie Robinson rocked his third home run of the day over the right field wall. It was only his thirteenth homer of the season, but he was certainly in a groove on this August afternoon. The solo shot put the Indians up 1-0.

Eddie Robinson

The Yankees answered with some of their own two-out magic in the top of the sixth. Billy Johnson singled to left. When Phil Rizzuto stroked a single down the right field line, Johnson hurried hard for third. Larry Doby fired the ball from right field to third base, but strock Johnson in the back. The ball ricocheted off Johnson and into the stands near third base. Doby was charged with a throwing error, despite the cross-diamond display of strength, and Johnson was given home plate to tie the game 1-1. 

Gromek allowed only four hits over his seven innings, and only the unearned run. In the bottom of the seventh, Indians second baseman Joe Gordon led off with a single. Johnny Bernardino moved Gordon over to second with a sacrifice bunt. Porterfield elected to intentionally walk the red-hot Eddie Robinson to pitch to Jim Hegan. Hegan knocked a single into center field that scored Gordon and put the Tribe up 2-1. 

Ed Klieman pitched two very strong innings of relief, facing only seven Yankee batters on the way to securing the Indians third victory of the weekend.

Baseball Reference Box Score

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Game 90

July 14, 2002 – Bill Selby’s Grand Slam Off Mariano Rivera

A sellout crowd packed Jacobs Field for the Sunday finale of this weekend series with the Yankees. Chuck Finley took the hill for the Tribe against the Yankees Mike Mussina. The Indians trailed almost immediately, as the Yankees manufactured four runs off five singles in the top of the first. 

Mussina retired the first nine Indians he faced, while the Bombers tacked on an additional run in the top of the third via a Jason Giambi double and two in the fourth to make it a 7-0 ballgame. 

The Indians began to climb back into things in the bottom of the sixth when Jim Thome homered after singles by Omar Vizquel and Ellis Burks. 

Ramiro Mendoza replaced Mussina in the bottom of the 7th. Omar Vizquel drove in third baseman John McDonald with an RBI double. Both bullpens continued to pitch effectively, and the bottom of the ninth began with the score Yankees 7, Indians 4. 

New York brought their legendary reliever Mariano Rivera in to close the game. Rivera had already recorded 215 of his eventual career 652 saves coming into the 2002 season. In the previous season, he gave up only five home runs in 71 appearances. So, Joe Torre and the Yankees felt that the game was in more than capable hands. 

The Indians comeback kindled quickly. John McDonald led off the bottom of the ninth with a line drive single to right. Backup catcher Eddie Perez knocked a single into right, advancing McDonald to third. Einar Diaz came into pinch run for Perez while Chris MacGruder stepped to the plate. MacGruder grounded to short, and Diaz was forced out at second. McDonald scored on the play, bringing the score to 7-5.

Omar Vizquel then singled to right, advancing MacGruder to third. With runners at the corners, Ellis Burks hit a line drive to deep left field. It dropped in for a double that plated MacGruder and put Omar on third. With the winning run now at second, Mariano intentionally walked Jim Thome to load the bases and set up an inning-ending double play. Travis Fryman struck out swinging on three straight pitches, leaving the Indians down to their last out. 

Career utility man Bell Selby stepped in. He pulled Rivera’s fifth pitch deep down the right field line. It was called a foul ball, but many insist that a puff of chalk was visible. A double into the corner would have easily won the game, but Selby trotted back to the batter’s box to face a 2-2 pitch from the game’s most prolific closer.

He later told a Plain Dealer interviewer, “When they talk about somebody dying or coming close to death, they talk about how your whole life flashes before your eyes. I can remember by the time I got halfway to first and realized it went foul, on the walk back, so many things went through my mind… I remember walking back, going, ‘That was my pitch. No, no, no. Clear your thoughts. Just relax. You’ve proven to yourself now you can get to the ball. Stay relaxed and breathe a little bit.’”

On some advice from hitting coach Eddie Murray, Selby choked up on the bat and dug in again. He sent Rivera’s pitch hooking near the right field foul pole. It cleared the right field wall and dropped into the bullpen, unleashing pure joy from the sellout crowd.  The Indians scored 10 unanswered runs to come back and tie the weekend series.

In a later interview Mariano stated, ”It was where I wanted it.  It was there. He hit my best pitch. I can’t get upset at that.” This was the first grand slam that Rivera had allowed in his seven year career. He would not give up another until 2010.  

This iconic Indians moment was one of 11 career home runs for Selby, who played in 122 games across parts of five MLB seasons. 

Baseball Reference Box Score

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Game 35

May 23, 1970 – Jack Heidemann Walkoff in the 13th vs Yankees

One of the best things about baseball is that sometimes the most unremarkable teams and the least likely players end up being heroes for a day.

The 1970 Indians were one of the most forgettable teams in Tribe history, finishing 5th in the AL East with a record of 76 and 86. Sam McDowell and Ray Fosse are probably the only 1970 teammates with name recognition beyond the most loyal fans.

Just over 6,800 tickets were sold for the Saturday afternoon contest with the Yankees on the lakefront. The fans who actually attended got to see plenty of baseball, though. The Indians matched up starter Rich Hand (no relation to current Tribe reliever Brad) with the Yankees Gary Waslewski.

Hand would scatter two runs on five hits over the first six innings. Waslewski lasted only four innings, giving up two runs on four hits, including a two-run home run by left fielder Duke Sims in the bottom of the 4th. Pete Ward pinch hit for Waslewski in the top of the 5th and then was replaced by Ron Klimkowski on the mound.

The Yankees took a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the 7th on an RBI single by Frank Tepedino. The Tribe answered in the bottom of the 8th when Duke Sims teed off again, this time with a solo home run.

In extra innings, Indians reliever Phil Hennigan was brilliant, retiring 9 out of 10 Yankees in the 11th, 12th, and 13th. In the bottom of the 13th, Duke Sims trotted to first after being hit by a pitch. Backup third baseman Larry Brown sent Duke to third on a ground-rule double.

With runners on first and third, the Yankees brought in reliever Jack Aker and intentionally walked the dangerous rookie Ray Fosse (who would go on to win the Gold Glove for 1970 and hit .307 with 18 HR).

Stepping in for his 6th plate appearance of the day, shortstop Jack Heidemann’s only hit of the day was the game winner. He poked a single to left field, scoring Sims and sending the Tribe home victorious.

Thirty-four players saw action in this extra-inning contest, which took nearly four hours to play.

The next day, Tony Horton would hit three home runs in the second-half of a twi-night double header the next day (Game 37), but the Indians would lose 7-8.

Baseball Reference Box Score

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Game 17

May 7, 1957 – Herb Score Injured by Line Drive

By the beginning of 1957, many baseball writers considered Herb Score to be the left-handed second coming of Bob Feller. Identified and signed by Cy Slapnicka, the same scout who signed Feller, Score was a flamethrowing young pitcher with endless potential. Prior to the 1957 season the Red Sox offered the Indians a million dollars for Score–an astronomical amount at the time–but were rebuffed by Indians GM Hank Greenburg.

Associated Press Photo

Building off his Rookie of the Year campaign in 1955 and All Star 20 win season in 1956, Score had started 1957 strong.

In his fifth appearance of the year, Score took the mound against the Yankees for a Tuesday night game in Cleveland. After Yankees right fielder Hank Bauer grounded out to lead off the game, Gil McDougald stepped to the plate.

McDougald drove a low pitch straight up the middle and struck Score directly in the eye. Blood streamed from his eye, mouth and nose. Third baseman Al Smith played the ball off Score and threw to Vic Wertz at first for the out while catcher Jim Hegan rushed to the mound.

Score never lost consciousness, but suffered severe hemorrhaging of his eye. He spent several weeks in the hospital, and his vision did not recover enough to let him pitch for the rest of the season.

Bob Lemon came in to pitch in Score’s stead. Over the remaining 8 ⅓ he allowed only one run on six hits.

In the bottom of the 8th, Gene Woodling singled to center field and advanced to third when Hank Bauer misplayed an Al Smith fly ball to right. Yankees pitcher Tom Sturdivant intentionally walked Vic Wertz to load the bases. After striking out rookie Roger Maris, Score’s best friend and road-trip roommate Rocky Colavito stepped to the plate.

Rocky drew a walk which forced in Wertz. This 2 – 1 score would hold up as Lemon retired the Yankee side in order in the 9th.

After the game, McDougald was distraught. “If Herb loses the sight in his eye, I’m going to quit this game,” he said in the locker room.

McDougald knew the pain of a line-drive injury first hand. Two years prior, he was hit in the head during batting practice. After a few days out with a concussion, he returned to baseball, but would eventually lose his hearing as a result.

Score attempted a return to baseball in 1958, but was only ever marginally successful. He recorded only 17 more wins from 1958 to 1962. Bob Lemon later said, “He became mechanical. He wasn’t bringing it like he used to, not holding anything back.”

Most Indians fans of my generation remember Herb Score only as the humorous sometimes contradictory radio announcer. Herb called Tribe games from 1968 to 1997.

Legendary Cavs announcer Joe Tait once quipped “Herb Score has probably watched more bad baseball than anyone in the history of the game.

Some announcers are known for the vivid picture that they paint with their words or for famous catch phrases. Listening to Herb was more like watching baseball with an older uncle. It was pleasant and comfortable, if not always accurate.

He could go innings–sometimes it seemed like days–without giving an update on the score. In his defense, for most of his tenure the Indians were usually losing. Repeated phrases turned into a kind of shorthand. A pitch in the dirt was mumbled “downtoolow” in a certain cadence that confused my mother. Once she asked me how long Don Cheelow played for the Indians, since she heard his name so much.

Herb Score and Tom Hamilton – 1990

The most famous Score-ism captures the almost meditative quality of listening to a Herb Score broadcast:

“It’s a long drive. Is it fair? Is it foul? It is!”

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Game 14

May 4, 1966 – Wagner and Brown Collide on Maris Pop Fly

The Indians started the 1966 campaign red hot, coming into New York for a mid-week series with an 11-1 record. With Sam McDowell, Sonny Siebert, and Luis Tiant in the rotation and hitters like Rocky Colavito, Leon Wagner, and Fred Whitfield, the 1966 Indians were one of the more promising teams since the mid-50s. Luis Tiant threw a four-hit shutout on against the Yankees Tuesday night, setting up a Wednesday evening showdown in the Bronx.

Leon Wagner was one of baseball’s most endearing characters in the 1960s. The muscular, always affable Wagner was the first star of the expansion California Angels. After two All-Star performances some disputes with management, “Big Daddy Wags” was traded to the Indians in 1964.

Both Sonny Siebert and Mel Stottlemyre came out firing. The Tribe recorded only one hit through the first three innings. Likewise, Siebert retired the first eleven Yankees in order.

With two outs in the fourth, Roger Maris popped a fly into short left field. Shortstop Larry Brown raced into the outfield, as Leon Wagner charged in from left field. There was a spectacular head-on collision in left field. Both players lay motionless near the left field foul line for several minutes. Some sources indicate that Brown swallowed his tongue and nearly died in Yankee Stadium. Brown credited trainer Wally Bock with saving his life and carrying him off the field.

Wagner had a concussion and a broken nose, but returned to the field only a few days later. Brown fared far worse. He suffered multiple skull fractures, a broken nose, and broken eye sockets.

“I’ve played college football, and I’ve seen split lips, smashed noses, cut faces, and earlobes torn off. But this was the worst I’ve ever seen.”


Indians third baseman Max Alvis

Brown spent 18 days in the hospital in New York, and did not return to the field for six weeks. He lost 10 pounds while in the hospital, and was out of condition when he returned. His batting average dropped 24 points from the .253 he posted in 1965.

Dick Howser replaced Brown at short and Chuck Hinton replaced Wagner in left field. Siebert and Stottlemeyer continued their pitching duel until Sonny Siebert helped out his own cause, leading off the top of the 8th with a bunt single. Vic Davalillo grounded to short and Siebert was thrown out at second. Davalillo then stole second. Chuck Hinton hit one back at Stottlemyre on the mound. Stottlemyre’s throw to first missed the mark, and Davalillo was able to score on the error.

In the bottom of the 8th, the Yankees would manufacture one run when Lou Clinton hit an RBI single pinch-hitting for Stottlemyre.

In the top of the 9th, Steve Hamilton replaced Stottlemyre on the mound and gave up a leadoff home run to Indians first baseman Fred Whitfield. Hamilton would be pulled in favor of reliever Pedro Ramos in short order, but the damage was done.

Siebert would go on to record the complete game win, and moved the Indians to 13-1 for the season.

1964 turned out to be Wagner’s most productive year with the Tribe. He totalled 100 RBI with 31 home runs, and 14 stolen bases. As productive as he was on offense, Wagner was sometimes comically bad in left field. When asked why he caught foul balls with only his glove hand he once quipped, “I’ve found that I field better if I catch the ball with only one hand. When you use two hands, the other one just gets in the way.”

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Game 11

April 17, 1992 – Charles Nagy Complete Game Win

The first inning was a rough one, with two hits, a walk and a wild pitch putting the Indians in the hole by a run to start the game.

However, that would be the only multi-hit inning of the game and the only walk recorded. Nagy recorded seven strikeouts–rather high for the pitcher, who usually relied on his sinker to force ground ball outs–and scatter five additional hits over a complete game.

The Indians offense that evening would prefigure some of the offensive explosions the team was famous for in subsequent years. The five-hit, five-run fourth inning featured a towering two-run home run by Albert Belle and a three-run home run by “Hard Hittin” Mark Whiten.

Carlos Baerga would homer in the top of the 5th, followed by Sandy Alomar in the top of the 6th. Ultimately delivering an 11-1 win in Yankee Stadium.

Although he is remembered best for his efforts with the championship teams of the mid-90s, 1992 was perhaps Nagy’s best year in the majors. He had a 17-10 record (.630), far outpacing the Indians overall winning percentage of .469.

This performance, along with other gems in the first half of 1992 earned Nagy a spot in the 1992 All-Star Game. After pitching the bottom of the 7th for the AL, he batted in the 8th because there were no players left to pinch-hit. Nagy wore a Texas Rangers batting helmet and hit an infield single. He is very likely to be the last pitcher ever to get a hit in an All-Star Game, since the designated hitter has been used in all All-Star Games since 2011.


https://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/NYA/NYA199204170.shtml

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Game 10

April 16, 2009 –
Indians Spoil Opening of New Yankee Stadium

Pomp and circumstance were the order of the day at the opening of New Yankee Stadium in 2009. Yogi Berra threw out the first pitch, Hall of Famers patrolled the pre-game warmups in letterman jackets, and Babe Ruth’s bat was laid across the plate as Derek Jeter approached the batter’s box to lead off the bottom of the first.

(US Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Jeremy M. Call)

After being traded by the Indians to the Brewers in July 2008, CC Sabathia signed with the Yankees in the off-season and became their Opening Day starter for 2009. CC came into this game already 1-1 on the season and delivered the first pitch in the new ballpark to former teammate Grady Sizemore.

In the top of the 3rd, Mark DeRosa was thrown out at first on an egregious baserunning blunder that ended an Indians threat early.

Ben Francisco scored the first run of the game, driven in by a Kelley Shoppach double off the wall in the top of the 4th.

Cliff Lee struck out the first two batters in the bottom of the 5th, but gave up the historic first home run in the stadium to Jorge Posada.

The top of the 7th would see reliever Joe Veres take the mound for New York. Veres would walk DeRosa, and give up consecutive doubles to Victor Martinez and Jhonny Peralta. Damaso Marte replaced Veres, but fared even worse.

He hit Shin-Soo Choo with his second pitch, and then Ben Francisco moved Peralta to third and Choo to second with a sacrifice bunt. Kelly Shoppach knocked a single into right field, scoring Peralta and loading the bases. Tony Graffanino popped out weakly to first, but the bases remained loaded. Demaso walked Trevor Crowe on five pitches to force in a run.

On the third pitch of the at-bat, Grady Sizemore sent a home run over the iconic W.B. Mason sign in right-field, putting the game entirely out of reach and recording the first grand-slam in the new ballpark. Victor Martinez would homer two batters later to put the icing on this 9-run inning.

The Yankees were a frightful 1 for 11 with runners in scoring position, resulting in audible boos from the Opening Day crowd by the later innings.

Although they played the spoiler on Opening Day, the Indians have had a fairly dismal record at New Yankee Stadium, going 13 and 21 in the regular season over the ten years since the Yankees moved across the street. Factoring in the playoffs–especially the ALCS collapse of 2017–maybe all of that superstition did work for the pinstripes after all.

Honorable Mention: April 30, 1946 – Bob Feller throws No-Hitter after returning from service in WWII.

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Game 3

April 8, 1993 – Carlos Baerga Switch-Hit Home Runs in Same Inning

1993 started off with a disappointing 9-1 loss to the Yankees on Opening Day. The Indians bounced back in Game 2 for a 4-2 victory. The final game of the series fell on a surprisingly warm 71 degree early April day and saw Mike Bielecki facing Sam Militello. The Indians 1993 lineup will be familiar to fans of the late-90s playoff run, since it was the year when many of the core players began to come into their own and attract national notoriety including Kenny Lofton, Albert Belle, and Sandy Alomar Jr.

The Indians jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the 1st, and chased Militello after scoring another three runs in the bottom of the 3rd.

In the top of the 4th, Paul O’Neill hit a solo home run off Bielecki to put the Yankees on the board. In the bottom of the 6th, speedy Glenallen Hill had a leadoff triple and was driven home by a Felix Fermin bunt. The Yankees added three runs in the bottom of the 7th to make it a 5-6 game.

The bottom of the 7th was an offensive explosion that would be often imitated by the hard-hitting Jacobs Field teams of the later 90s. Alvaro Espinoza pinch hit for Jeff Treadway to lead off the inning with a single to right field. Carlos Baerga stepped in from the right side of the plate. On the 10th pitch of the at-bat, he launched a 380 foot home run to right-center. On the next pitch, Steve Howe hit Albert Belle. Angry words were exchanged, and Howe was clearly rattled. He gave up three consecutive singles to Paul Sorrento, Reggie Jefferson, and Glenallen Hill.

Steve Farr was brought in with two on and no outs. He immediately retired Sandy Alomar and Felix Fermin, but then lost his command. Kenny Lofton hit a single through the 3B hole, scoring Jefferson. He worked Espinoza into a full count, the crafty utility man homered to deep left field, clearing the bases and bringing Baerga back to the plate.

Always a talented switch hitter, this time Baerga stepped in from the left side of the plate. He sent the 2-0 pitch into the bleachers and became the only player to ever homer from both sides of the plate in the same inning. Baerga scored the 15th and final run of the game.

To date, 60 players have hit two home runs in the same inning in MLB history. Baerga’s switch-hitting feat has been matched twice to date, by Mark Bellhorn in 2002 and Kendrys Morales in 2012. In my mind, this is a baseball anomaly that is heightened in stature because it is both an individual and a team accomplishment. Hitting two consecutive home runs is a notable individual feat–and a very good day for any ballplayer. Likewise, batting around in an inning is not an everyday occurance and represents a very good day for a team. Hitting home runs from either side of the plate takes an exceptional switch-hitter. Combining all of this into one inning is truly a historic event.

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