August 23, 2011 – Shin-Soo Choo Hits a Double in the Midst of an Earthquake–and Later a Walkoff Home Run
Game 125 of the 2011 Season was the first game of a day-night doubleheader. The doubleheader was the result of a rainout in an earlier series against the Mariners in May. Justin Masterson was matched up with Blake Beavan for the afternoon contest.
Indians centerfielder Kosuke Fukudome started off the scoring in the bottom of the first when he drove in Ezequiel Carrera with an RBI double. The M’s evened the score at 1-1 in the second via a Miguel Olivo RBI single.
In the bottom of the third, Shin-Soo Choo was at the plate with two outs when the stadium began to lightly shake and sway. Tom Hamilton remarked, “Boy, the press box here is really shaking. What is the world is going on?” Choo drove a fly ball into the right field gap, which went for a double.
The shaking turned out to be a magnitude 5.9 earthquake centered near Richmond, Virginia. Earthquakes occurring in the eastern United States can generally can be felt over a broader distance than those in the west due differences in bedrock geology. Several downtown Cleveland office buildings were evacuated, but the game continued. Choo was left on base when Calos Santana flied out to end the inning.
Later, Fukudome doubled to lead off the bottom of the fourth. Lonnie Chisenhall gave the Tribe the lead once again when he drove in Fukudome with a single through the left side of the infield.
The Mariners retook the lead in the top of the fifth. Trayvon Robinson doubled to left field then Ichiro knocked a single into right. Always hustling, Ichiro advanced to second on the throw home to challenge Robinson at the plate. Franklin Gutierrez then drove in Ichiro with a double into left-center.
Fukudome came through again with a single in the bottom of the sixth. He was pushed across the plate by Matt LaPorta’s sacrifice fly. An inning later, Carlos Santana gave the Indians the 4-3 lead by way of an RBI single. Unfortunately, Choo was put out at third on a throw from right field which squashed the Indians’ momentum for a time.
Justin Masterson had pitched a strong 8 ⅓ innings. When he gave up consecutive singles to Miguel Olivo and Kyle Seager, it was clear his day was done. Closer Chris Perez came in seeking the final two outs.
Instead, Trayvon Robinson drove a double down the right field line which scored the runners on first and third and give Seattle a 5-4 lead.
Brandon League came on to pitch for the M’s and put Ezequiel Carrera and pinch-hitting Asdrubal Cabrerea on to lead off the inning. Shin-Soo Choo stepped in with Carrera and Cabrerra at the corners Choo smacked League’s first pitch over the left field wall to give the Indians their sixth walk-off homer of the year.
Choo had returned to the ballpark only two hours before game time on Tuesday. His daughter had been born at Fairview Hospital the prior afternoon. He had not planned to play in the double-header, but with Hafner, Kipnis, Sizemore, and Brantley out for the game the Indians asked if he would be willing to play. “It was up to my wife,” Choo said. “She understands the baseball life and told me to go.”
Honorable Mention – August 22, 1989 – Felix Fermin Records Four Sacrifice Hits
Felix Fermin had a sacrifice bunts in the first, fifth, seventh, and ninth innings of this game. In his at-bat in the third inning he grounded into a double-play. Only one MLBer had ever recorded four sacrifice hits in a game before–Ray Chapman of the Indians in Game 115 of the 1919 Season.
Despite the general decline in sacrifice hitting over the years, two players have completed this feat since Fermin–Kris Benson of the Pirates in 2004 and Corey Sullivan of the Rockies in 2006. Fermin remains the only player to have four sacrifices in a game played with the DH.