June 20, 1996 – Indians Defeat Roger Clemens in Walkoff Win
It was always a joy to watch the juggernaut offense of the mid-90s go up against the era’s best pitchers. Matching up with Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, David Cone, Kenny Rodgers, or David Wells was usually a memorable battle, and often a playoff preview. You would be hard pressed to find a pitcher that typified the 1990s (steroids and all) like Roger Clemens.
The Rocket was matched up against Chad Ogea this Thursday night at the Jake. Ogea started off a bit rocky, issuing a leadoff walk to Jeff Frye and a single to John Valentin. However, he then got Mo Vaughn to ground into a double play and Jose Canseco to pop out to end the inning.
Jim Thome drew first blood, cracking an RBI double to deep left field that scored Julio Franco from first base.
The Sox took a 4-1 lead in the top of the third. A flurry of offense topped off by a two-run single by Reggie Jefferson put the Tribe in a bit of a hole.
The Indians began to climb back into things with a solo home run by Manny Ramirez to lead off the bottom of the fourth.
With runners on second and third with one out in the bottom of the fifth, Jim Thome grounded to second. He was forced out at first, but Omar Vizquel scored, cutting the Sox’ lead to 1 run.
In the bottom of the eighth, Jim Thome tied the game with a lead off home run to deep right field. Clemens struck out Albert Belle, and then walked Manny Ramirez on five pitches. Eddie Murray drove the ball into short left field for a single, advancing Manny to second. Carlos Baerga had the opportunity to do some damage, but grounded into a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning.
Indians reliever Paul Shuey faced four Red Sox in the top of the ninth and held them scoreless. Mike Stanton replaced Roger Clemens on the mound for the Sox in the bottom of the ninth. Tony Pena led off the inning with a double. Jeromy Burnitz replaced Pena on the basepaths as a pinch runner. Omar Vizquel executed a perfect sacrifice bunt to move Burnitz over to third.
In his fifth plate appearance of the day, Kenny Lofton drove the game-winning single into center field, easily scoring Burnitz from third and giving the Tribe their third (of an eventual nine) walkoff win of the 1996 campaign.