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Game 127

August 26, 2016 – Guyer Hit by Pitch Twice in Rout of Rangers

Nearly 32,000 packed the Ballpark in Arlington to watch the first-place Indians take on the Rangers on this summer Friday night. Corey Kluber was matched up with Martin Perez. 

Jason Kipnis kicked off the scoring in the top of the third when he punched a grounder into right field that scored Roberto Perez from first. 

In the top of the sixth with Mike Napoli on third, Brandon Guyer was struck by Martin Perez’ 0-1 pitch. Abe Almonte doubled into deep left center to clear the bases and put the Tribe up 5-0. Roberto Perez singled in Almonte to chase Martin Perez from the game. Dario Alvarez retired Rajai Davis for the final out of the inning. 

Alvarez hit Guyer to lead off the top of the eighth. After consecutive singles by Almonte and Perez, Alvarez was replaced by Rangers reliever Keone Kela. Kela hit Rajai Davis with his fourth pitch to drive in Guyer. After a Jason Kipnis pop-fly, Almonte scored on a wild pitch. 

In the top of the ninth, Guyer finally got on base by making bat on ball contact. He dropped a single into short right field, and later scored on a Roberto Perez single. The Tribe routed the Rangers 12-1 and drew within two games of Texas for the best record in the American League. 

The two hit-by-pitches brought Guyer’s total on the season to 27. Sportswriter Jordan Bastian posted this amazing diagram to his Twitter account.

Guyer’s plate-crowding stance and high-step with his lead foot play into all of the lower-body bruises.  His final stat line: four runs scored with one hit in three official at bats.

Guyer said. “When it’s upper — head or upper body — I’ll move. I’ll throw my arms up or get out of the way. But lower body, I’ve always been that way with getting hit. That’s how it’s been the last three years in the big leagues, and college and the Minor Leagues. It’s just instinctual.”

August Fragerstrom of Frangraphs ran the numbers and found that Guyer was hit by pitch at a higher rate–in nearly 6% of his at-bats–than any player in modern baseball history. 

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Game 126

August 24, 2017 – The Streak Begins

Indians were 5.5 games ahead of Minnesota in the Division. Their 70-56 record was 6.5 games back of Houston for the best in the League. However, they had just suffered two tough losses in which the bats could not get going. The Tribe lost the two previous games to the Red Sox 1-9 and 1-6. 

\(AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

Trevor Bauer was matched up with Sox’ ace Chris Sale. The Tribe got to Sale early and often. Jay Bruce and Brandon Guyer led off the bottom of the second with consecutive singles. Yandy Diaz drew a walk to load the bases. Roberto Perez scored Bruce on a line-drive single. Gio Urshela followed, and broke his bat bat on a grounder to short. Sale made a matrix-like move to avoid the biggest shard of bat as it whizzed by his head. Guyer scored and Diaz reached third, while Perez was forced out at second while Urshela hustled to first to avoid the double-play. 

Francisco Lindor drove in Yandy with a line drive to left. Then, Austin Jackson stepped in and grounded one into the hole between second and third. Rafael Devers ranged over to catch it, but could not complete the throw to first. Jackson reached on the throwing error and Urshela scored the unearned run to put the Tribe up 4-0. 

Mitch Moreland took Bauer deep to lead off the top of the third, but a greater Red Sox threat did not materialize. 

In the bottom of the third, Yandy Diaz had an RBI double that scored Encarnacion. Two batters later, Gio Urshella drove in two with a timely single to center. Although Sale struck out Lindor to end the inning, his day was done. 

Bauer gave up three runs in the bottom of the fourth, when Xander Bogarts lined a triple into left field and Mitch Moreland singled him home. With those highlights, the Sox closed the gap to 4-7. 

The bottom of the order combination struck again in the bottom of the fifth, when Yandy Diaz singled, Roberto Perez walked, and Gio Urshella dropped a single into left to extend the Indians lead to four runs. 

Jay Bruce uncorked the game’s first home run in the bottom of the sixth, followed by a Yandy Diaz triple. Roberto Perez doubled to score Diaz. 

Blaine Boyer began the seventh inning pitching for the Red Sox. After a leadoff home run by Francisco Lindor, Boyer loaded the bases. Fernando Abad came in from the bullpen. During the pitching change, Boston made some changes in the field including brining Rajai Davis off the bench and into left field. 

Davis, who had just been acquired by Boston a few days earlier, received a standing ovation from the Progressive Field crowd. Later in the inning, Yandy Diaz scored Jose Ramirez on a line drive to right field, but was thrown out to end the inning trying to stretch the hit into another triple. 

Despite a 8th inning Sox home run by Mitch Moreland, the Indians cruised to an 13-6 victory. This was the first in the record-setting win streak of late 2017. We will visit the streak several times in the remainder of the project. Suffice to say that this win turned the momentum from those bad beats at the hands of the Red Sox and ignited the team–especially the bottom of the order. 

Yandy Diaz finished the game with two doubles, a triple, and four runs scored. Gio Urshella had four RBI on two hits. Roberto Perez was 3 for 4 with two RBI. 

On beating up the MLB strikeout-leader Francona said, “I guarantee you our guys aren’t like, ‘Oh, good, Sale is pitching.’ He’s had his way with us as all good pitchers do. We have probably done better than most teams against him, but boy, he’s good. We’ve just done a fairly good job against him.”

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Game 125

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.”

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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.

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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 113

August 12, 2016 – Indians Steal Eight Bases on way to 13-3 Win

The 2007 Indians were my favorite team to watch pitch. The 1995 team was my favorite to watch at bat. The magic of the 2016 squad came on the basepaths. Rajai Davis, Jose Ramirez, Francisco Lindor and plenty others were always pushing to take an extra base. 

Carlos Carrasco was pitching against the Angels’ Tyler Skaggs on this hot August Friday night. Carrasco got off to a rocky start, giving up a solo home run to Kole Calhoun and an RBI single to Albert Pujols that scored Mike Trout. The score was 2-0 before the Indians came to bat. 

Rajai Davis drew an 11-pitch walk to lead off the game, then stole second on Skaggs second pitch to Jason Kipnis. On the very next delivery, Rajai broke for third and arrived safely. Kipnis poked a line drive single into left to send Davis home. WIth two outs, Kipnis stole second but Jose Ramirez struck out to end the inning. 

Carrasco got into a groove and threw a 1-2-3 second inning. Brandon Guyer lead off the bottom half of the second with a solo home run that tied the game at 2-2. 

Pujols put the halos ahead once again in the top of the third with a grounder to third that scored Kole Calhoun. 

Jose Ramirez singled to right to lead off the bottom of the fourth. Ramirez swiped second with Brandon Guyer at the plate. After Guyer fouled out, Ramirez stole third with Abe Almonte at bat. Almonte knocked a line drive into center field to score Jose and tie things up at 3-3. 

The Tribe pulled away in the bottom of the fourth with four runs on five hits. Rajai got his third steal of the night and Ramirez his third as well.

The Indians added two more runs in the bottom of the sixth, and Lindor got the club’s eighth steal of the night. 

Brian Shaw and Zach McAllister both pitched 1-2-3 innings in relief as the Indians would continue to pile on toward a 13-3 victory. 

When asked what made Skaggs so easy to run on, manager Terry Francona said simply, “You’ve got a lanky left-hander on the mound whose young,”

The Indians had not had eight stolen bases in a game since Game 128 of 1917. Right fielder Braggo Roth stole four bags in that contest against the Washington Senators. Joe Harris added two steals along with one each from Tris Speaker and Bill Wambsganss.

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Game 107

July 30, 2014 – Kluber Hurls a Maddux against King Felix

There was no more marquee pitching matchup of the 2014 season than Felix Hernandez facing Corey Kluber. The two met on a Wednesday night at Progressive Field. 

Photo Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Kluber gave up three singles in the early innings, but they were all quickly erased–two of them with ground ball double plays.

The first 4 ½ innings were played in under an hour as Kluber and Hernandez each mowed through the opposing lineup. Felix had a perfect game going through four innings, until he walked Carlos Santana to lead off the fifth. 

Lonnie Chisenhall followed with a double to right field, which put Santana comfortably at third. Nick Swisher grounded a slow roller to second–Santana and Chishenall held at their bases–and Swisher beat the throw to first. After a grounder by David Murphy that forced Carlos out at home, Yan Gomes came through with a two run double. 

With the 2-0 lead, Kluber pitched even more confidently and efficiently. He needed only seven pitches to retire the Mariners side in the top of the seventh. 

The Indians did not threaten in the bottom of the seventh, but the Klubot returned to pitch the eighth. Kyle Seager grounded out on the second pitch. He struck out Logan Morrison looking on three perfectly located strikes, and got Mike Zunino to squib a weak grounder with the first pitch he saw. After a 6 pitch eighth inning, Kluber had thrown eight shutout innings using only 77 pitches. 

The Tribe went 1-2-3 in the bottom of the eighth, and Kluber quickly returned to the mound looking for the final three outs. On a steady diet of nasty sinkers, Brad Miller, James Jones, and Dustin Ackley all grounded out to end the game. 85 pitches was the new Indians record for fewest pitches in a shutout. 69 of the 85 pitches were strikes. 

Terry Francona later said, “He threw 16 balls. My math is horrendous, but that’s like two an inning?”

Although Kluber’s league-leading 18 wins were not quite enough to put the Indians in the postseason in 2014, they were enough to win him the AL Cy Young award when he garnered 17 first place votes over Felix’s 13.

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