September 20, 2000 (Game 2) – Omar Vizquel Catches Cormier Sleeping, Straight Steals Home
The Indians were fighting for the Wild Card spot and Boston was trying to keep their fading playoff hopes alive as the Indians visited Fenway to play back-to-back doubleheaders in the middle of the week. In Game 1 on Wednesday, the Indians defeated Pedro Martinez for the first time in 10 games. In Game 2 Dave Burba was matched up with Paxton Crawford.
Troy O’Leary doubled to left field to lead off the bottom of the second. After a Trot Nixon strikeout, Lou Merloni drove in O’Leary with a line drive to deep left field.
In the bottom of the fourth, the Red Sox extended the lead to 3-0 when Scott Hatteburg doubled with two outs. Lou Merloni followed with an RBI double, and then Brian Daubach drove in Merloni with a liner into center field.
The Indians came up with their own two-out rally in the top of the fifth. Bill Selby was hit by Crawford’s pitch to get on base. Kenny Lofton moved him over to second with a single into center field. Omar Vizquel drew a five-pitch walk. Robbie Alomar poked a single into left-center that scored Selby and Lofton. Robbie and Omar executed a double-steal with Manny Ramirez at the plate.
Manny drew a walk to load the bases, and Rheal Cormier came in to relieve Crawford. Cormier entered the game facing Jim Thome with the bases loaded. Cormier was focused on his pitches to Thome and took his time moving into the stretch for every pitch. He neglected 33-year old Vizquel on third. Jim Riggelman took two steps out of the third base coaches box and appeared to just say “Go.” Vizquel broke for home, and barely had to slide as he came in to score the tying run.
Cormier never even attempted a throw to the plate.
Trot Nixon smashed a home run over the wall in left-center to lead off the bottom of the fifth and put the Sox up 4-3.
In the bottom of the sixth, Steve Karsay came on to pitch against Lou Merloni who already had two doubles in the game. Scott Hatteberg was on first. Karsay got Merloni to ground out into a 4-6-3 double play.
Chan Perry grounded out to begin the Indians’ half of the seventh. Kenny Lofton singled to right and then Omar walked. With runners on first and second, Rich Garces came on in relief for the Sox. Robbie Alomar flied out to center, but Manny Ramirez and Jim Thome plated two runs with back-to-back singles.
Steve Karsay and Paul Shuey held things down through the late innings, before closer Bob Wickman came in to face Merloni with the bases loaded in the bottom of the eighth. Wickman got Merloni to ground into a 5-4-3 double play to end the eighth. He was able to close the door in bottom of the ninth to seal the 5-4 victory.
Omar would repeat this feat several times throughout his career. Although he had moved on from the Indians by then, his straight-steal of home in 2008 at age 41 bears quite a resemblance to the play above.
No Indian completed a straight steal of home again until Grady Sizemore in Game 129 of 2005.