May 3, 1997 -Sandy Alomar Walkoff Hit
Although Indians fans often soured on players from the 90s who left for greener pastures and bigger paychecks, Sandy Alomar is one of the most universally beloved figures from the mid-90s dynasty.
He was often sidelined with injuries, overshadowed by his Hall of Fame brother, or edged out for awards in favor of fellow Puerto-Rican catcher Pudge Rodriguez but throughout the playoff runs of the era he was the undisputed clubhouse leader. Along with his Rookie of the Year 1991 season, 1997 was the year that everything came together for Santos.
Sandy was once again behind the plate as Chad Ogea faced off against the Tiger’s Brian Moehler in this Saturday afternoon contest. The field was soaked after a rainy morning, but the sold-out crowd was in place for this division tilt.
Omar Vizquel walked to lead off the game, and the Indians manufactured a run on groundouts by Tony Fernandez and Jim Thome. Matt Williams would single to first to bring Omar home and get the Tribe on the board.
In the top of the third, the Tigers sent nine batters to the plate. With the bases loaded, Travis Fryman hit a line-drive two-run single. Next up, Tony Clark scorched a three-run home run to deep right center.
Tony Fernandez led off the bottom of the third with a home run. Later in the inning Julio Franco drove in Matt Williams to bring the score to 5-2.
In the bottom of the 8th, Omar Vizquel tied the game on a two-run double to left field off Detroit reliever Dan Miceli.
Eric Plunk was pitching the top of the 9th. He issued a walk to Brian Johnson. The speedy Omar Olivares was sent in to pinch run for Johnson. A wild pitch by Plunk sent Olivares to second. Jody Reed was retired on a fly ball to right, but with two outs on a 0-1 pitch, Brian Hunter knocked a single through the gap between second and short. Olivares scored from second, putting the Tigers up 6-5.
Matt Williams led off the bottom of the ninth with a single over second base. A wild pitch by Tiger’s closer Doug Brocail advanced him to second base. Backup catcher Raul Cassanova lost track of the 2-0 pitch to David Justice, and Williams reached third on the passed ball.
Justice’s deep fly ball to center allowed Williams to tie the game on the sacrifice. Next up, Manny Ramirez would reach on a line drive to short center field. Brocail issued a walk to Julio Franco, sending Manny to second where Chad Curtis would be sent in to pinch run. Brian Giles then grounded to third. The runners advanced, but the Indians were down to their last out.
On a 1-0 pitch, Sandy drove a fly ball to deep right field. It stayed in the park, but easily scored Curtis for the walkoff RBI. This was one of only five walk-off wins in 1997.
Oddity note: Later in the month, during Game 50. Sandy would record the only Indians hit of the game, breaking up Mike Mussina’s bid for a Perfect Game.