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Game 124

August 23, 1986 – Andre Thornton Game-Winning Pinch Hit

The 1986 Indians were playing just above .500 ball, but were just one game out of last place in the American League East. A crowd of over 40,000 came down to the Lakefront to see the first place Red Sox. Knuckleballer Tom Candiotti was starting against Tom Seaver in the marquee pitching matchup of the weekend. 

In the top of the third, Wade Boggs struck first for the Red Sox with a solo home run off Candiotti. 

The Tribe bounced back in the bottom of the third when Brook Jacoby led off the inning with a single. Seaver walked Tribe catcher Chris Bando. Jacoby advanced to third on a fielder’s choice and was driven home on a Julio Franco single. Joe Carter hit another single, putting runners on second and third with one out. Mel Hall grounded out, but Tony Bernazard hustled home to give the Indians a 2-1 lead. 

The Indians extended their lead in both the fourth and fifth innings. An RBI single by Chris Bando and a solo home run by Joe Carter, respectively gave the Indians a 4-1 lead after 5. 

The Tribe threatened again in the bottom of the sixth. They chased Seaver from the game with consecutive singles by Jacoby and Bando. Sammy Steward replaced Seaver and walked the first batter he faced to load the bases. Julio Franco hit into a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning. 

Candiotti gave up a double to Marty Barrett and a walk to Jim Rice in the top of the eighth. Ernie Camacho was brought in for relief. Camacho walked Don Baylor to load the bases. Dwight Evans singled to drive in a run, and then Rice scored on a Bill Buckner groundout to cut the Indians’ lead to 1 run. 

Rich Gedman got aboard with a leadoff double in the top of the ninth and advanced to third on a groundout. Wade Boggs lofted a fly into foul territory in left field. Mel Hall put Boggs out on the fly, but Romero tagged up to win the game. 

Bob Stanley came in to pitch the bottom of the ninth for the Sox and he brought his gas can to the mound. Chris Bando drew a walk. Tony Bernazard singled. Julio Franco hit into a fielders choice, leaving runners at first and second. Joe Carter singled to load the bases. Tribe Manager Pat Corrales called on Thunder Thornton to pinch hit. Andre knocked a game-winning single for a 5-4 final score. 

Throughout the 1980s, Thornton was one of the most beloved ballplayers in Cleveland. He was a prolific home run hitter and run producer on a team that was often mediocre at best. Thornton played 11 seasons for the Indians, mostly as a DH. During his tenure, the Tribe finished above .500 just three times. 

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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 115

August 14, 1987 – Tom Candiotti Knuckleballs His Way to Victory Over the Yankees

Tom Candiotti was the Indians’ Opening Day starter for 1987. Throughout the 1986 season, Phil Niekro mentored Candiotti who was making the conversion to a full-time knuckleball pitcher.

He was a bright spot on a dismal Indians team that normally dragged him down with poor run support. Coming into this mid-August game, he had a 6-11 record and the Tribe were dead last in the AL-24 ½ games behind front-running Toronto.  However, Candiotti had seen some success against the Yankees, including a one-hitter in Game 105 at Municipal Stadium two starts prior.

In this matchup, Candiotti faced former Indian Tommy John (of ligament surgery fame) in a Friday night tilt at Yankee Stadium. 

The Yankees kicked off the scoring in the bottom of the first when Don Mattingly crushed a Candiotti knuckler for a two-run home run. 

Pat Tabler and Corey Snider singled in the top of the second. Tommy John walked Brook Jacoby to load the bases. This brought up Indians catcher Andy Allanson who poked a single into left field. Tabler and Snider crossed the plate to tie the game at 2-2.

Gary Ward led off the Yankee’s half of the second with a double. Catcher and future Indians coach Joel Skinner scored Ward with a sacrifice fly to right. 

The Tribe re-took the lead on a two-run single by Brett Butler in the top of the fourth that chased John from the game. Reliever Brad Arnsburg quelled the threat. 

Dan Pasqua led off the top of the fifth with another homer of Candiotti. Later in the inning with runners at first and third Don Mattingly put the Yankees ahead again 5-4 with an RBI single. 

Brook Jacoby put the Indians ahead for good in the top of the eighth with a solo home run off Arnsburg. Jacoby finished the night with three runs on three hits, one walk, and two RBI. Doug Jones pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning to record his fourth save of the season. 

Candiotti pitched 7 ⅔ innings, and gave up five runs on nine hits but was good enough to beat the Yankees in their second straight matchup. Candiotti continued throwing the knuckler into the 1999 season. By then he had passed the torch to Tim Wakefield as the only knuckle-first pitcher in the league. 

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Game 88

July 19, 1982 – Toby Harrah Walkoff Gets Tribe Back to .500

After three seasons with the Tribe, Toby Harrah was not pleased with the direction the Indians were taking. He did not mince words. “I am tired of playing .500 ball or being the spoiler. It has been the same every year and I’m sick of it. We need a more balanced bullpen… We need a team that doesn’t have 12 designated hitters and 6 first basemen. All of this is management’s fault.”

In mid-July of 1982, the Indians were once again in 6th place in the AL East, ahead of only the Blue Jays. The day before, the Indians celebrated a rare walkoff win on a pinch hit RBI triple by Bill Nahrodny. 

On this Monday evening in July a sparse crowd of under 12,000 was scattered around Municipal Stadium to see the Indians take on the Oakland A’s. Steve McCatty started for the A’s while the Tribe sent Lary Sorenson to the mound. 

Indians’ second baseman Larry Milbourne bookended the previous night’s performance with a leadoff triple in the bottom of the first. He was driven home by a Toby Harrah groundout to get the Tribe on the Board 1-0. 

The A’s tied things up in the top of the third when Ricky Henderson walked with two outs, stole second, and was driven home by a Dwayne Murphy single to center field. A two run homer by Jeff Newman put Oakland ahead 3-1. 

Von Hayes doubled to right to lead off the bottom of the fourth. After fly-outs by Rick Manning and Ron Hassey, Carmello Castillo drove Hayes in with a single past the shortstop, cutting the A’s lead to one run. 

The teams continued to battle through the middle innings, with Oakland notching another run on a Jeff Burroughs homer to lead off the top of the 6th. Von Hayes had another leadoff hit in the Indians half of the sixth, and scored again on a Ron Hassey single to right. 

In the bottom of the ninth, the Indians would find themselves down one run with one out and the bases loaded. Larry Milbourne lofted a sacrifice fly to right. Rick Manning tagged up to score the tying run. 

Down to their final out, Toby Harrah stepped to the plate and smacked a sharp one to third base. A’s third baseman Wayne Gross lofted the throw to first, which would likely have put Harrah out and sent the game to extra innings. Instead, Jack Perconte hustled home to give the Tribe their second walkoff win in as many nights and put the team back at .500 with a 44 and 44 record for the season.

Harrah would go on to play all 162 games of the 1982 season for the Indians, and have the best hitting season of his career. He finished the year batting .304 with.183 hits, 25 home runs, and 100 runs scored. However, the Indians would finish 78-84 and once again 6th in the AL East. 

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Game 63

June 22, 1980 – Joe Charboneau HR – Goes on to Win Rookie of the Year

Soon after his call-up after Andre Thornton went down with a knee injury at the end of spring training Terry Pluto gave Joe Charboneau the moniker “Super Joe.” After crushing a home run against the Angels on Opening Day, Cleveland was captivated with the rookie slugger.

By mid-June, he was slugging homers and tall tales were growing among the fanbase. He broke rocks against his chest. He opened beer bottles with his eye socket. He was a bareknuckle boxer before taking up baseball. He fixed a broken nose with plenty of whiskey and a pair of pliers. Joe never confirmed or denied most of the legends.

Joe Charboneau, Cleveland Indians left fielder who was American League rookie of 1980 and was plagued with back injuries last season, looks for a comeback this season with the Indians. Carboneau, batted., 210 last season. Here he gets jammed in the batting cage at Cleveland’s spring training camp in Tucson, March 5, 1982. (AP Photo/Sal Veder)

On June 22nd, the Indians were in Minneapolis to face the Twins. Bo Diaz and Miguel Dilone got the Tribe out to an early 2-0 lead. The Twins tied it up in the bottom of the second with a two-run single by Dave Edwards.

In the top of the third, Super Joe singled to center to load the bases. After a flyball out by Toby Harrah, Jack Brohamer pushed Orta and Hargrove across with a two-run double. Rick Manning then drove in Charboneau to give the Tribe a 5-2 lead.

In the top of the 4th, Charboneau singled to left in an inning that saw the Tribe score one run on three hits but strand two runners on base.

In the top of the 6th, Tom Veryzer led off with a double to left field. Dilone singled to move him over to third. Dilone then stole second to move into scoring position. Dell Alston knocked a triple into the left field corner, scoring Veryzer and Dilone. Mike Hargrove then drove in Alston with and RBI single. After a pitching change, Charboneau sent Fernando Arroyo’s pitch into the stands for a two-run home run.

The Twins would scatter a few more runs, but Super Joe’s Home Run turned out to be the icing on the cake.

A week later on June 28th, Charboneau would become one of only three players to ever hit a home run into the third deck of Yankee Stadium. However, the Indians would go on to lose 11-10.

Super Joe finished the 1980 campaign with 23 home runs, and 87 RBIs. He became Cleveland’s third AL rookie of the year. A local punk band had recorded Go Joe Charboneau and reached No. 3 on the local charts.

The sophomore slump hits many major leaguers, but none fell off as dramatically as Super Joe. After hitting poorly in the early part of 1981, Charboneau  injured his back sliding into head-first into second base while playing for the AAA Charleston Charlies. He played only 70 more major-league games and has the fewest MLB appearances for any Rookie of the Year winner.

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