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Game 128

September 13, 1995 – Charlie Nagy Tops David Cone and the Yankees

Over 41,000 packed Jacobs Field to see the first-place Tribe take on the hated Yankees on this Wednesday night. Rain delayed the start of the game until nearly 9PM. Charlie Nagy was matched up with reigning Cy Young-winner David Cone in the rubber match of the series. 

Nagy got out to a slow start, walking both Bernie Williams and Mike Stanley in the first inning. However, he got Darryl Strawberry to strike out swinging and end the inning. 

The powerful Indians offense picked him up almost immediately. Kenny Lofton walked to lead off the Cleveland half of the inning. With Omar Vizquel at the plate he stole second, and then stole third two pitches later. Omar drove him home with a ground ball double into right field. Manny Ramirez eventually scored Vizquel with a two-out RBI single leaving the Tribe on top 2-0 after the first inning. 

Lofton had Cone and Stanley’s number on this evening. After knocking a single to short in the bottom of the second, Lofton stole second once again.

Photo: Al Bello

Nagy retired the next seven batters he faced. His sinker was working beautifully, as eight of the first nine outs were either ground ball outs or strikeouts. 

In the bottom of the fifth, Albert Belle took Cones 1-1 pitch deep into the Cleveland night. This was the first in an absolute flurry of home runs for Belle. He hit eight home runs over the next week, and totaled 17 dingers in September. This tied the mark for home runs in a calendar month set by Babe Ruth in 1927. 

Tony Pena started the two-out rally in the bottom of the sixth with a single over the second base bag. Kenny Lofton doubled to right field, putting Pena on third. Then, Omar Vizquel punched a grounder through the left side of the infield, plating the Indians final two runs of the night. 

Nagy continued to cruise through the sixth, seventh, and eighth innings. He gave up only one hit, a double to Don Mattingly that was quickly erased in the top of the seventh. 

Although his pitch count was already at 101 after eight innings, Mike Hargrove sent Nagy back to the mound to pitch the ninth. Bernie Williams grounded out for the fourteenth ground ball out of the game. Paul O’Neill gave Nagy a bit of a scare with a long fly ball to center, but Albert Belle was able to track it down on the warning track for the putout. Mike Stanley worked Nagy into a 2-2 count, but eventually struck out swinging to end the game. 

Nagy’s final stat line was a complete game shutout giving up three hits, two walks and strking out five on 115 pitches. After one more win in the final days of the strike-shortened season Charlie finished the season 16-6. 

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Game 123

September 8, 1995 – Indians Clinch a Playoff Berth for First Time in a Generation

The Indians came into this Friday night contest with a hair shy of a .700 winning percentage. They were a whopping 23 ½ games ahead in the Central Division. The Orioles threw Kevin Brown against veteran Orel Hershiser .  

In the bottom of the third, Sandy Alomar took first base on a hit-by-pitch. A Kenny Lofton single into right field advanced him over to third. Alomar scored on a sacrifice fly by Omar Vizquel for the first run of the game. Later in the inning, Eddie Murray drove in Carlos Baerga and Albert Belle with a two-out single over second base that put the Tribe up 3-0. 

Hershiser gave up his first hits of the night in the top of the fourth–consecutive singles by Curtis Goodwin and Rafael Palmero. With runners at the corners, Bobby Bonilla hit a grounder to first which Sorrento scooped up, fired to Vizquel for the force at second and back to Sorrento for the double-play while Goodwin scampered home to cut the lead to 3-1. 

Brown and Hershiser battled through the middle innings, until Harold Baines dropped a double into left field for the Orioles in the top of the seventh. Jeff Huson drove him in with another double and Mike Hargrove made the call to the Bullpen for Paul Assenmacher. 

Assenmacher got the last out of the seventh and the first two of the eighth. Julian Tavarez came in to match up with Bobby Bonilla and recorded the final out of the eighth. 

Jose Mesa came to the mound for the top of the ninth with the one-run lead intact. He retired Cal Ripken on a groundout to short and Harold Baines on a fly ball to right. He put the tying run aboard by issuing a walk to Chris Hoiles. Jeff Huson popped his 0-1 pitch into foul territory beyond third base. Jim Thome caught the fly, and the Indians were headed to the post-season for the first time since 1954. 

Prior to the game, knowing that the clinch was possible, Manager Mike Hargrove made a request of the scoreboard crew. He asked that Garth Brooks “The Dance” be played during the post-game celebration. The Dance was a favorite of former Indians closer Steve Olin who died in a boating accident during Spring Training of 1993. 

Hargrove later said, “I thought it would mean a lot to anyone who was there (at the time of the accident) For those who weren’t there it had no significance, but it was still a good song. It was a tribute to those guys, to their families. It was part of our promise to never forget them. We didn’t tell anyone that we were going to do it. For those who knew, there wasn’t a dry eye to be seen. I saw Charlie Nagy; tears were rolling down his face.”

Of course, the 1995 Indians would later run into the woodchipper that was John Smoltz, Greg Maddux, and Tom Glavine. Jose Mesa would go from second in the Cy Young voting to an all-time Cleveland villain, and the window of contention would eventually close without a World Series Ring. But for this day, Cleveland was on top of the baseball world. 

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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 114

August 13, 1999 – Robbie Alomar’s Diving Catch Ends the Game

The Indians were 17 games ahead in the Central Division and cruising toward a fifth straight division title. Chuck Nagy was pitching against the Orioles’ Scott Erikson. 

Nagy did not allow a runner past second base until the top of the fifth. After Delino DeShields singled to center, he advanced to second on a Brady Anderson walk. DeShields and Anderson executed a two-out double-steal to get into scoring position. Mike Bordick took Nagy’s second pitch deep into left field. Richie Sexson leaped for the ball and made a backhanded catch. Sexson crashed into the outfield wall, but hung-on for the inning-ending putout. 

In the bottom of the fifth with two outs and Richie Sexson on second base, Dave Roberts hit a single through the right side of the infield. Sexson rounded third and came in to score, but Roberts was thrown out trying to stretch the hit into a double. 

Former Indian Albert Belle tied things up in the top of the sixth when he drove home BJ Surhoff with a single to right. 

Omar Vizquel led off the bottom of the sixth with a single to right field. Robbie Alomar attempted to bunt him over, but the bunt was fielded by first baseman Will Clark and flipped to shortstop Mike Bordick at second to force out Vizquel. Manny Ramirez put the Tribe ahead despite the failed bunt, crushing a home run to deep right center. 

Paul Shuey replaced Nagy in the top of the eighth and gave up a leadoff single to Brady Anderson. After a Mike Bordick fly-out, BJ Surhoff singled to center. With runners at the corners, Albert Belle drove in two more runs with a two-run line drive double. Shuey was credited with a blown save, and Ricardo Rincon came on in relief. 

After putting Jeff Conine on base with a hit-by-pitch, Rincon got Will Clark to ground into a 1-6-3 double play to end the inning with the score tied 3-3. 

Scott Erikson returned to pitch the bottom of the eighth, but did not last long. Dave Roberts reached on an error and was moved over to second on a sacrifice bunt by Omar Vizquel. Robbie Alomar drove him home with a sharp line drive into right field. Manny Ramirez stepped in and launched his second two-run homer of the day. 

With the O’s down 6-3, Jesse Orosco came to the mound in relief. This was Orosco’s 1,071st appearance in the majors. This tied him with Dennis Eckersley for the all-time lead. Orosco broke into the majors in 1979 and would pitch until 2003, eventually amassing 1,252 appearances. He is one of only 29 big leaguers to have played in four decades. 

Mostly a matchup pitcher later in his career, Orosco struck out Jim Thome and gave up a single to David Justice. He was replaced by Scott Kamienecki who got Richie Sexson out to end the inning. 

Michael Jackon came on to close the game for the Tribe. He struck out Charles Johnson, and got Delino DeShields to ground out. With the grounds crew kneeling next to the tarp as rain threatened, Jackson walked Rich Amaral. Amaral advanced to second as Jackson focused on Brady Anderson. 

Anderson hit a ground ball sharply between first and second base. Ranging far to his left, Robbie Alomar snagged the grounder. He spun on his knees and threw a no-look strike to Jim Thome at first base. 

Anderson later remarked, “I wasn’t surprised. Anybody else, yes. But Robbie is one of the greatest second basemen ever.”

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Game 111

August 4th, 1996 – Lofton Vaults Outfield Wall to Rob BJ Surhoff Homer

The 1990s Indians were primarily known for their offense. However, of all the great Indians moments of the late 1990s, only one clip is so iconic and instantly recognizable that it was included in the SportsCentury montage that ESPN ran in the final moments of New Year’s Eve 1999. 

On a Sunday afternoon in August, the Indians entered this game against the Orioles with the best record in the American League. The Orioles threw Rocky Coppinger against Brian Anderson. 

In the bottom of the third, Kenny Lofton led of the inning by drawing a six-pitch walk. With Omar Vizquel at the plate, Lofton stole second and then third. After Vizquel drew his own walk, Jim Thome plated Lofton with a sacrifice fly. 

Baltimore tied it up in the top of the fourth with a solo home run by Bobby Bonilla. 

The Tribe broke the 1-1 tie in the bottom of the fifth when Lofton homered to right field. Jim Thome gave the Indians an insurance run when he poked a single through the right side of the infield which scored Vizquel from second base. 

After replacing Anderson, Paul Shuey gave up a solo home run to Jeffery Hammonds to make it a 3-2 ballgame. 

In the top of the eighth, with Raphael Palmero on first, BJ Surhoff came to bat. Shuey fell behind and into a 3-0 count. Surhoff took the 3-0 pitch to deep right-center. Omar Vizquel later shared, “I thought that ball was going to be a homer. Period. I dropped my head and I said, ‘Damn, man.’”

Kenny Lofton had not given up on the play. He raced toward the path of the ball. Lofton originally recruited to the University of Arizona on a basketball scholarship. He is the only person to have played in both an NCAA Final Four and a World Series. Arizona Wildcats head coach Lute Olson once said of Lofton, “He’s quick and a great leaper.”

This was never more evident as this moment when Loften barreled toward the bullpen wall, leapt off the warning track, found a foothold on some padding that protected the bullpen door and vaulted three feet above the right field wall to bring back what would have been a go-ahead homer for Surhoff. 

Jim Thome remarked, “Literally, I thought he was going to jump over the wall.”

After Eric Plunk struck out Eddie Murray for the final out of the inning, the energized Indians came to bat. They sent fifteen men to the plate and scored eleven runs on eight hits, including a three-run double by Jose Vizcaino, and three-run home run by Jim Thome, and another three-run homer by Brian Giles. 

Jose Mesa pitched a 1-2-3 ninth, but was clearly not eligible for a save in the 14-2 victory. 

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Honorable Mention: August 16th, 1920 – Ray Chapman is Killed by a Pitch

While not a positive story, Chapman’s is a unique one. He was struck in the temple by a pitch that he likely never saw. The Yankee’s Carl Mays was a submarine-style pitcher known to skuff and soil the ball (as was legal at the time). The game was nearing twilight when Chapman–a talented hitter who is still sixth on the all time list of sacrifice hits–failed to track the pitch and was struck squarely in the head. He collapsed to his knees and was helped off the field. He died hours later in a New York hospital. Chapman remains the only MLBer ever to pass away as a result of an on-field injury. 

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Game 104

August 1, 1990 – Alex Cole Steals Five Bases

By the first of August 1990, the Indians were eight games back of the frontrunning Blue Jays in the American League East. The the visiting Royals were dead last in the AL West, sixteen games behind Oakland, making this game…pretty much irrelevant except for the arrival of Alex Cole. 

Cole made his first appearance with the Indians on July 27th, 1990. Cultivated as an outfielder with blinding speed on the basepaths, Cole was eager to prove himself at the big league level. 

The Royals jumped out to an early lead against Greg Swindell when Bill Pecota doubled and then was driven home by Gerald Perry’s line drive single to center. 

Alex Cole led off the bottom of the first by drawing a walk. With left fielder Mitch Webster at the plate, Cole stole second. Webster flied out, and Jerry Browne came to bat. Cole stole third. Browne knocked a double into left field, and Cole’s run tied the game. 

In the bottom of the third, Cole was hit by Mark Davis’ pitch. MItch Webster popped out, and again with Jerry Browne at the plate, Cole stole second. By the third inning, he had three stolen bases without yet recording a hit. 

In the bottom of the fifth, the Tribe offense got going. Tom Brookens doubled into center field to get things started. Alex Cole poked a single through the right side of the infield to score Brookens. Cole stole second and then was driven home by Mitch Webster’s double into center field. Not to be outdone, Webster stole third with Jerry Browne at the plate. Browne’s sacrifice fly plated Webster to make the score 4-1 Indians. 

Cole singled to left in the bottom of the seventh, stayed put on a Webster fly-out, and then stole second with Browne at the plate. Swindell and closer Doug Jones made the 4-1 lead stand up.

Twenty-seven players have stolen five or more bases in a single game under the modern rules.  Eddie Collins stole six bases for the Athletics twice in the 1916 season–a feat which was unmatched until Carl Crawford stole six for the Rays in 2009. Cole stole five bases again in Game 26 of 1992. Kenny Lofton is the only other Indian to complete the feat, in Game 133 of 2000. 

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Game 80

July 6, 1997 – Sandy Alomar’s 30-Game Hit Streak (maybe) Sets a Franchise Record

Although he is best known for his defense, leadership, and ability to call a game, Sandy Alomar Jr. put together one of the best summers of hitting in a generation during May, June, and early July of 1997. 

On this night, the Indians were trying to close out the first half of the season with a sweep of the Royals. Orel Hershieser was on the mound against Tim Belcher. Alomar extended the streak in the bottom of the second with a ground ball single to third base. He beat the throw down the line on the weak grounder. 

The Tribe got out to a lead in a big way with a grand slam by Manny Ramirez in the bottom of the third. 

However, the Royals came in the top of the fourth, hanging seven runs, including a three run double by Scott Cooper, on Hershiser and chasing him from the game.  

Matt Williams leadoff home run in the bottom of the fourth and a two-run double by Kevin Seitzer tied the game at 7-7. 

Jose Mesa held the Royals at bay for 3 and ⅔ innings. In the bottom of the eighth, Marquis Grissom drove in Omar Vizquel to score what turned out to be the winning run. Michael Jackson pitched the ninth and was awarded the win. The Indians completed the sweep and entered the break with a 3 1/2 game lead in the division.

Of course, the next game following this one was the 1997 All Star Game, which was held at Jacobs Field. Sandy hit the game-winning home run off Shawn Estes and was named the MVP of the All Star Game in front of the hometown crowd. 

Sandy could not keep the streak alive after the All Star break, but the 30-Game streak is regarded as the longest in team history. Some record-keepers note a possible 31-game streak by Nap Lajoie in 1906, but the records are somewhat unreliable this early in baseball history and there are differing accounts. 

During the streak, Alomar slashed .422/.455/.595. He had 11 home runs at the break, including a streak of five straight games with a home run in April. “I’m in a zone. Everything looks like a beach ball,” he said in one post-game interview. 

The one benchmark that Sandy’s streak did not achieve was the longest streak by a catcher. This is notable because that mark is held by Sandy’s old rival Benito Santiago. Santiago put together a 34 game streak for the Padres in 1987. This performance–along with his ability to throw out baserunners from his knees–kept Sandy out of the San Diego lineup in the late 80s and eventually led to his trade to the Indians. 

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Humorous Mention: July 3, 2015 Trevor Bauer Imitates Teammate’s Batting Stances in Interleague Game


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