June 11, 2009 – Seagull Assists on Game Winning Hit
Both the Royals and Indians were struggling in 2009. Jeremy Sowers faced off against the Royals’ Zack Grienke. In a battle to stay out of the basement in the AL Central.
In the bottom of the third, Louis Valbuena led off with a double to left-center. Trevor Crowe advanced Valbuena to third on a well executed sacrifice bunt. Victor Martinez drove him home with an RBI single.
The Royals took a 2-1 lead in the top of the fifth with RBI hits by David DeJesus and Billy Butler.
Throughout late spring in 2009, a flock of seagulls roving around the outfield and roosting in the rafters. A week earlier with the Yankees in town, Nick Swisher remarked, “There’s what, 8,000 seagulls out there?” Yankees outfielder Nick Swisher said. “This ain’t even the beach. It’s Cleveland.”
Indians spokesman Bob DiBiasio spoke to the arrival of the birds and difficulty in getting them to move on, “Gulls are riding the wind currents up the valley to the ballpark in search for food scraps to feed their young. The Indians are continuing to research ways to control this issue under the guidance of gulls being federally protected.”
The birds were in full force, filling the outfield gaps and taking flight to avoid outfield fly balls. In the top of the eighth, KC extended their lead to 3-1 with a solo home run by Miguel Olivo.
In the bottom of the eight the Indians mounted a comeback. A single by Mark DeRosa and a five-pitch walk to Victor Martinez chased Grienke from the game. DeRosa scored on a grounder by Shin-Soo Choo that was mishandled twice by the Royals. Martinez was forced out at second, but two throwing errors left Choo on second when the dust cleared. Jhonny Perralta then doubled to score Choo and tie the game at 3-3.
Indians closer Kerry Wood pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning to send the game to extra frames. The Royals were unable to get anything going against Matt Hedges in the top of the tenth.
In the bottom of the 10th, Mark DeRosa singled to center to lead off the inning. Kyle Farnsworth issued a walk to Victor Martinez to move DeRosa into scoring position. Shin-Soo Choo came to the plate and poked a single into the flock of birds in shallow center. Royals centerfielder Coco Crisp charged in and appeared to have a play on the ball.
On one hop, the ball struck one of the gulls in the wing. The bird flopped around momentarily and then took flight. Crisp could only throw up his hands as the ball deflected away from him, allowing DeRosa to score the winning run.
After the game, Tribe coach Joel Skinner who has been with the organization both at Municipal Stadium and Progressive Field remarked about the birds, “It’s never been this bad here or at the old ballpark. I just hope I don’t get pooped on.”