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.