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Game 122

August 14, 2003 – Travis Hafner Hits for Cycle Just Before Widespread Blackout

The Indians were wrapping up a mid-week series in Minneapolis with a Thursday-afternoon getaway game. Even for dedicated fans, most people are not engaged with the game in real-time. Despite the history-making moments in this game–not many Clevelanders remember it–likely because not many of them even saw the highlights. 

Brian Anderson was matched up with Brad Radke of the Twins in the Metrodome. Travis Hafner opened up the scoring with a solo home run on Radke’s first pitch of the at-bat. It was a towering drive to right that landed somewhere in the “baggy” covering the collapsible seating sections used for Vikings games. At the middle of the second inning the Tribe were up 1-0. 

In the top of the third, Casey Blake bounced one into the seats and scored Jhonny Perralta with the ground-rule double. 

With two outs in the top of the fourth, Hafner slapped a bouncer over Brad Radke on a check swing. The ball found its way between the second baseman and shortstop. As it dribbled into the outfield, Pronk raced around first, and slid into second for a double.

Anderson scattered just five hits through the first six innings and the Twins never really threatened.

The Tribe broke things open in the top of the seventh when Hafner chopped one in front of the plate and beat Matt LeCroy’s throw to first. The catchers throw sailed past the first baseman and Hafner took second on the throwing error–but was credited with a single. 

Josh Bard bunted Hafner over to third. He then scored on a ground-rule double by Jhonny Perralta. The Tribe would add three additional runs in the seventh to bring the lead to 6-0. 

After another 1-2-3 inning by Anderson, Ben Broussard led off the Indians half of the eighth with a single. Ryan Ludwick struck out swinging and brought Hafnet up with a shot at the record books. Not known for his speed–clearly a triple would be a tall order for Hafner. He sent a line drive into the right-center gap, perfectly placed between the outfielders. It skipped to the wall on the Metrodome turf. Torii Hunter fielded the ball up against the wall and double-clutched before hitting his cutoff man. By the time the relay came to third, Hafner was in safely with a head-first slide. 

Anderson eventually gave up a home run to Matt LeCroy and was chased from the game. Reliever David Cortes gave up two additional runs while closing out the bottom of the ninth, but was more than serviceable in getting the Tribe to the 8-3 victory. 

Hafner’s final line was 4 hits, 2 RBI in 5 plate appearances. His mother, Bev had driven 400 miles from Sykeston North Dakota to see her son at the nearest ballpark. Hafner was the seventh Indian to hit for the cycle to date. Rajai Davis and Jake Bauers have done it since. 

The game in Minnesota ended when it was 3:36 p.m. in Cleveland. Around 3:10, various transmission lines and substations in the First Energy system began tripping off. At 4:09 all Cleveland Public Power customers were completely in the dark. Eventually, over fifty-million people in eight states and parts of Canada would be without power.

With Clevelanders scrambling to empty fridges, locate flashlights, procure generators, or drink beers with their neighbors under the stars few were paying attention to the sports day’s highlight reel and so Hafner’s cycle became a bit of trivia that escaped the memory of many.  

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Game 121

August 20, 1992 – Indians Spoil Tapani’s 3-Hitter with Sorrento Walkoff

The Indians started Rod Nichols against Twins workhorse Kevin Tapani on this Thursday night. The Twins were 6 games back in the AL West, but had a talented core. The Tribe were out of contention in the AL East, but young players like Albert Belle, Sandy Alomar, Paul Sorrento, and Jim Thome were beginning to make some noise. 

Tapani pitched masterfully, holding the Indians hitless through six innings. The only Cleveland baserunner was Paul Sorrento who drew a walk in the bottom of the second. 

Nichols scattered a hit or two in nearly every inning, but managed to escape too much damage. The Twins only run came in the top of the fifth when Chuck Knoblauch drove a double into right field. After Randy Bush advanced Knoblauch to third on a groundout, Kirby Puckett sent him home with a double down the right field line.

Tapani continued to guard the 1-0 lead. In the bottom of the seventh “Hard Hittin’” Mark Whiten took the first pitch of the inning deep over the Muni Stadium wall to tie the game 1-1. Tapani then retired the next nine Indians to send the game to extra innings. 

Eric Plunk took over on the mound for the Tribe with two out in the eighth and gave up only two hits in 2 ⅓ innings of work. He held on to the tie and gave the Indians a shot in the bottom of the tenth. 

Carlos Baerga flied out for the first out of the inning. Tapani issued a six-pitch walk to Albert Belle to give the Indians their first baserunner since the top of the fifth. Paul Sorrento stepped in and slapped a line drive down the left field line. Belle motored around from first to score the winning run. 

Tapani was the ultimate hard-luck loser. He went 10 innings, gave up only three hits and two walks. The Twins supported him with eleven hits, but could not push them across the plate. The Twins left eight men on base and were a miserable 2 for 11 with runners in scoring position. 

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Game 120

August 19, 2016 – Naquin Walkoff Inside-the-Park Home Run

After a walkoff win the night before, the Blue Jays came to town for a weekend series. The Indians matched up Trevor Bauer with Francisco Liriano. The Jays were hanging to a fractional game lead in the east with a formidable hitting lineup, while the Indians were out ahead of the Tigers by seven games going into the weekend. 

Bauer got in trouble early, walking Michael Saunders in the top of the first. With two outs, Russel Martin sent a line-drive home run over the left field wall. The Indians found themselves in an early 2-0 hole. 

Liriano allowed only two hits through five innings. In the bottom of the sixth, Jason Kipnis got aboard with a line drive single to right field. With Lindor at the plate, Kipnis advanced to third on a passed ball that skipped away from Russel Martin. Mike Napoli drove Kipnis home with a single to left to cut the lead in half. 

The Jays bullpen showed up in a big way. For the second straight night, Naquin entered the game as a pinch hitter. He replaced  Brandon Guyer in the 7th inning for the matchup, as Joaquin Benoit came on to pitch for Liriano. Benoit pitched a 1-2-3 seventh, and Jason Grilli faced only four batters in the eighth to hold on to the 2-1 lead. 

After Jeff Manship retired the Jays side in order in the top of the ninth, Roberto Osuna came on to pitch for the Jays. 

After Carlos Santana popped out, Jose Ramirez stepped in. He took Osuna’s 0-2 pitch deep down the right field line and over the wall to tie the game at 2-2. 

Naquin battled through a series of fastballs and nearly struck out on Osuna’s fourth pitch–which he barely tipped. On the fifth pitch of the at-bat, Osuna lost one out over the plate, which Naquin squared and drove to deep center. 

For a moment it was unclear if the ball would be a home run, off the wall, or caught by a leaping Michael Saunders. 

As Saunders was leaping at the wall, Melvin Upton Jr. had slipped hustling over from second. Upton eventually ended up with the ball, but not before doing the splits and facing away from home plate. 

Greg Grant captured this moment in a legendary tweet

As Upton attempted to hit the cutoff man from the seat of his pants in right, Naquin was rounding third. Mike Sarbaugh gave him the green light, and Tyler dug for home. It was clear that there would be a play at the plate, but nearly as clear that he would be successful. The Indians bench had cleared well before  Naquin touched home and struck his now-iconic pose. 

The victory put the Indians 20 games over .500 for the season and set the tone for one of the great post-season runs in team history. It also put Naquin firmly into the Rookie of the Year discussion. He went on to finish third in the voting behind Michael Fulmer of the Tigers and Gary Sanchez of the Yankees

This was the first time in MLB history that a game-tying home run was followed by a game-winning inside-the-park home run.

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Game 119

August 18, 2016 – Naquin Completes the Comeback with a Pinch-Hit Walkoff

No, not that Tyler Naquin Walkoff. The White Sox were wrapping up a mid-week series at Progressive Field. The Indians had just activated Danny Salazar from the 15-day DL to start against the Sox’ Carlos Rodon. 

Salazar walked three of the first four batters he faced, then Justin Morneau drove a bases-clearing double into left-center. Morneau was left on base, but the Sox were out to an early 3-0 lead. 

Salazar did not return for the top of the second. Kyle Crockett pitched a 1-2-3 inning. Mike Clevinger took the mound for the top of the third and held the Sox scoreless through the top of the seventh. 

The Tribe started climbing back in the bottom of the fifth when Carlos Santana led off with a double and then was driven in by a Jose Ramirez single. 

In the bottom of the sixth, Roberto Perez slapped a leadoff single into right field. Jason Kipnis bounced one into the stands for a ground rule double that put Perez on third. Francisco Lindor slapped a single into short right field to make the score 3-2 Sox after six. 

After Dan Otero replaced Clevinger in the top of the seventh, JB Shuck bunted Tim Anderson from second to third. Omar Narvaez poked a grounder through the left side of the infield to give the Sox an insurance run. 

Rajai Davis made it a 4-3 game with an RBI double in the bottom of the seventh, and Jose Ramirez tied it with a two-out RBI single in the bottom of the eighth. Andrew Miller pitched a scoreless ninth inning to hold the tie. 

In the bottom of the ninth, Abe Almonte led things off with a double into center field. Terry Francona signaled to Roberto Perez to bunt Almonte over to third. However, Jacob Turner’s first pitch to skipped away from Narvaez behind the plate for a passed ball that put Almonte on third. 

Now in a swing-away situation, Terry Francona decided that he could do better than Roberto Perez, who was hitting .108 at the time. He called on Tyler Naquin as a rare mid-at-bat pinch hitter. 

On Turner’s first pitch to Naquin, he lofted a fly ball to deep center. Almonte was able to tag and score the winning run for a walkoff sacrifice. 

Francona later said, “Tyler Naquin was sitting over there by the bat rack for a couple of days, ready to hit. …We didn’t have to go find him. He was ready, and it showed.”

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Game 118

August 13, 1984 – Joe Carter Gets Walkoff Hit Against the Yankees in the 11th Inning

Joe Carter has one of the most famous walkoff hits in baseball history. This is not that one, but it does prefigure the clutch hitting he displayed throughout his 18 year career. 

Brett Butler and Joe Carter

Brett Butler led off the bottom of the first with a triple, but was put out on a fielder’s choice when Joe Carter sent one back to the pitcher. Julio Franco followed with a single that advanced Carter to third. Andre Thornton walked to load the bases. 

The Tribe jumped out to an early lead when Pat Tabler drove home carter with a sacrifice fly, and Carmello Castillo singled in Franco.  Chris Bando walked to juice the bases once again. Brook Jacoby knocked a 2-run single, but Bando was thrown out trying to go from first to third to end the inning with the score 4-0. 

The Yankees made up some ground in the top of the third with consecutive RBI singles by Tim Foli and Don Mattingly. 

In the bottom of the fourth, Yankee starter Jim Deshaies got in trouble once again. He put on Bando and Jacoby with consecutive singles and then walked Mike Fischlin. The Yankees brought in Mike Armstrong from the bullpen to attempt to clean things up. Brett Butler hit a sacrifice fly to center which scored Bando from third. However, Fischlin was picked off at second for the 8-6-4 double play. 

The Yankees slowly but surely closed the gap, with an RBI single by Butch Wynegar in the top of the sixth, and RBI single by Don Mattingly in the top of the sixth, and a game-tying double by Omar Moreno in the top of the eighth. The blown save was hung on Ernie Camacho. 

Tribe reliever Steve Farr held onto the 5-5 tie through the tenth and eleventh innings. In the bottom of the eleventh, Brook Jacoby knocked a single to get things started. Tony Bernazard hit a double that advanced Jacoby to third. The Yankees intentionally walked Brett Butler to load the bases and set up the double play for Joe Carter. Instead, Carter poked the game-winning hit into left field to send the Indians home a winner. 

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Game 117

August 13, 2006 – Travis Hafner Hits a Record Sixth Grand-Slam

The Tribe was wrapping up a weekend series with the Royals with a Sunday afternoon tilt between Jeremy Sowers and the Royals’ Luke Hudson. 

Sowers gave up two quick hits, but then retired the Royals on a pop-out by Mike Sweeney and a line-drive to third baseman Andy Marte who caught the liner and tagged out David DeJesus as he was diving back to the bag. 

The Indians put the game way out of reach early on. Hudson loaded the bases immediately. He issued a walk to Grady Sizemore. Jason Michaels singled. Then he walked Travis Hafner. Victor Martinez followed with a two run single into right. Shin Soo Choo plated another pair with a single into left field. 

Ryan Garko singled. Jhonny Perralta reached on an error, and Joe Inglett singled to load the bases once more. Hudson worked into a full count against Andy Marte before walking in a run. Grady Sizemore scored Perralta with another single. Hudson finally recorded an out when he got Jason Michaels to strike out swinging in his second at bat of the inning. 

Travis Hafner stepped in and launched a no-doubt line drive grand slam home run into the bullpen in right field.

Victor Martinez got his second hit on the inning with a double to left, and finally Todd Wellmeyer replaced Hudson on the mound. Wellmeyer promptly retired Choo and Garko to end the eight hit eleven run inning. 

Ryan Garko and Franklin Gutierrez added solo home runs in the fouth and eighth, respectively while Jeremy Sowers and the bullpen cruised to the 13-0 victory. 

Hafner’s grand slam was his sixth of the season. The only other player to hit six slams in a season is Don Mattingly in 1987. Interestingly, Mattingly never hit another grand slam after 1987. Hafner is by far the fastest to achieve the feat–since Mattingly did not hit #5 or #6 until late in September. 

Unfortunately, Hafner did not get to write his own line in the history book, he was hit by a pitch in Game 133 and missed the entire month of September with a broken hand. 

Hafner ended the season with a .659 slugging percentage and 1.097 OPS. He hit a total of 42 homers and drove in 117 in his best hitting campaign. While belting six grand slams is a personal achievement and a testament to Pronk’s clutch hitting, it also indicates that the top of the order got on base a lot

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Honorable Mention: August 24, 1945 – Bob Feller Returns from Navy, Strikes out 12 Tigers

As with many of the baseball greats of the 1940s, a significant chunk of Feller’s career was given up to service in World War II. After three years in the Navy, mostly aboard the USS Alabama, Feller returned to the Indians mid-season in 1945. 

His first game back was against the Tigers on a Friday night in Municipal Stadium. Over 46,000 fans came out to welcome Feller home and see him throw a complete-game four hitter. He struck out twelve Tigers in the 4-2 win. 

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Game 116

August 17, 1933 – Earl Averill Hits for the Cycle

On this Thursday afternoon Monte Pearson was throwing for the Tribe against George Earnshaw and the rest of Connie Mack’s Athletics. The game was in the newly-opened Municipal Stadium where the outfield was immense. 

Earl Averill got the first hit of the game–a two-out double into left field in the bottom of the first. Joe Vosmik sent him some with a single into center field. Averill came around to score before Vosmik was put out at second trying to stretch the single into a two-bagger. 

Bill Cissel had a two-run homer for the Indians in the bottom of the third. Again with two outs, Averill knocked one into right field. By the time the Athletics Lou Finney ran it down, Averill was safe at third. Once again, Vosmik pushed Averill across the plate with a single. The third ended with the score Indians 4, A’s 0. 

The A’s sent nine men to the plate in the top of the fifth, scoring three runs on four hits to cut the Tribe lead to one run. 

The Indians countered by sending thirteen batters to the plate in the bottom of the fifth. Earl followed Milt Galatzer’s walk and a sac bunt by Bill Cissel. He singled into right and advanced to second on a throwing error. As the eleventh man up, Averill walked in his fourth appearance. The Tribe scored seven runs on eight hits in the inning, bringing the score to 11-3. 

In the bottom of the seventh with Cissel on second, Averill clubbed a home run over the Muni Stadium wall, completing the Indians first cycle since Bill Bradley in Game 136 of 1903.

Dib Williams had an RBI single for the A’s in the top of the eighth, but the A’s would not threaten as Monte Pearson went the distance for the complete game win with a final score of 15-4. 

Averill’s cycle was the 62nd in major league baseball since 1901. It was the second of nine cycles to date in Indians history. 

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Honorable Mention: August 12, 2004 – Ben Broussard Hits Second Pinch-Hit Grand Slam

Kerry Lightenberg walked in the tying run by issuing a bases-loaded free pass to Casey Blake. The Blue Jays made a pitching change and Ben Broussard stepped in against Vinnie Chulk. Broussard took Chulk’s 1-1 pitch deep for his second pinch-hit grand slam of the season.

He is one of five players to hit two pinch-hit grand slams in a season along with Darryl Strawberry in 1998, Brooks Conrad in 2010, Mike Ivie in 1978, and Davey Johnson in 1978. 

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