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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 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.”

Baseball Reference Box Score

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Game 73

July 18, 1995 – Albert Belle Walkoff Grand Slam

The Indians were 14 ½ games ahead in the Central Division on July 18, 1995–to date, that was the biggest pennant lead in franchise history. The California Angels, who were leading the West were in town for a two-game series that would test both first-place clubs.

The Angels sent Mark Langston to the mound with a five-game winning streak. Spot starter Mark Clark–not far removed from AAA Buffalo–started for the Tribe.

California got out to a three-run lead, as Clark could not keep the ball inside the park. He gave up a solo home run to Tony Phillips in the top of the third, and a two-run shot to Jim Edmunds in the fifth.

In the bottom of the fifth, the Indians manufactured three runs on five singles by Alvaro Espinoza, Ruben Amaro Jr., Carlos Baerga, Albert Belle, and Manny Ramirez and tied the ballgame.

In the top of the sixth, after a single by JT Snow, Garrett Anderson tagged Clark once again with a home run that just cleared the right field wall.

Eric Plunk replaced Clark in the seventh, and pitched 1-2-3 innings to hold the score at 5-3. However, the Indians were unable to get a runner past second base in either the seventh or eighth.

After another 1-2-3 inning by Paul Assenmacher, the Indians were down to their last three outs and were facing Angels closer Lee Smith. At that time, Smith was the all-time saves leader with 456 and was one save behind Jose Mesa for the league high for the season.

Left-handed utility man Wayne Kirby was brought in to bat for Alvero Espinoza. He hit a sharp ground ball down the first base line. It kicked off the base, off the chest of the Angels first baseman and into foul territory. Jim Thome struck out, but not before Kirby stole second. A line drive single through the left side of the infield got Omar Vizquel aboard and advanced Kirby to third. With runners at the corners, Smith walked Baerga on four pitches to load the bases and set up a double play.

Smith quickly threw two strikes. A close pitch just missed the outside corner. Albert later admitted that he thought that may have been strike three. Belle then smashed a hanging slider 425 feet to dead center.

In a post-game interview Smith said, “I was trying to throw something in the dirt, out of the strike zone, but that’s what happens when you hang sliders.”

Belle’s trip around the bases and subsequent curtain call were met with a deafening roar from the crowd of over 41,000. This was the fourteenth Indians victory in their final at-bat in 1995.

Baseball Reference Box Score

Honorable Mention: July 3, 1980 – Tribe Beats Yankees 7-0 in Front of a Walkup Crowd of 73,000

The weather was perfect, the next day was a holiday, and the Yankees were in town. Although attendance averaged just over 12,000 a game for the 1980 season, 73,000 fans packed Municipal Stadium to see Joe Charbeneau record 4 RBI and defeat the Yankees 7-0.

Baseball Reference Box Score

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Game 71

July 16, 1995 – Manny Ramirez “Wow!” Home Run off Dennis Eckersley

The red-hot Indians were trying to complete a four-game weekend sweep of the A’s in mid-July of 1995. The Tribe were already running away with the Central Division, and every game seemed to have a new hero.

Oakland threw Todd Stottlemyre against “El Presidente” Dennis Martinez. Eckersley began his career in Cleveland as a hard-throwing starter. He threw a no-hitter for the Tribe in Game 41 of 1977. In 1987, he signed with his hometown Oakland A’s and became the most dominant closer of the era.

Rickey Henderson led off this Sunday afternoon game with a home run on the third pitch from Martinez. Four batters later, Geronimo Berroa took Martinez deep to left-center to put the A’s ahead 3-0.

In the bottom of the second, Tony Pena cut the lead to 3-1 when he grounded out to third with runners at the corners.

In the bottom of the sixth, the Indians loaded the bases on Stottlemyre, but Wayne Kirby ended the inning with a flyball out. Likewise, the A’s loaded the bases in the top of the 7th. Martinez was able to work out of the jam when Stan Javier grounded out to short.

The As went to their bullpen in the bottom of the 7th, bringing in Mark Acre to replace Stottlemyre. Following a Carlos Baerga single, Albert Belle rocked a two-run home run to deep left-center, tying the game at 3.

The A’s loaded the bases again in the eighth, but once again failed to score. Julian Tavarez and Todd Van Poppel pitched scoreless ninth innings, for their respective clubs and send the game to extra frames.

The bullpens continued to battle, until the top of the twelfth when Stan Javier scored Ricky Henderson on a sacrifice fly off of Alan Embree.

The Indians came to bat in the bottom of the 12th with pressure mounting. The A’s brought in Eckersley to slam the door. Carlos Baerga singled to left on Eck’s second pitch. Albert Belle and Jim Thome then popped out consecutively. The speedy Kenny Lofton came in to pinch run for Baerga and stole second.

With Lofton on second, Manny Ramirez stepped back in and fouled off a handful of Eckersley fastballs. On the seventh pitch of the at-bat Manny connected with one of those Eckersley fastballs in a big way. The two-run home run landed more than half way up the left field bleachers. As Manny rounded the bases, a TV camera caught the moment when Eckersley turned to see the ball leave the park and mouth “WOW!”

Interestingly, Eckersley is credited with coining the phrase I have used so often in this project “walkoff home run.” He initially used the term to describe the home run he gave up to Kirk Gibson in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series.

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Game 52

May 31, 1996 Albert Belle Flattens Fernando Vina to Break Up Double Play

Albert Belle was a prolific slugger with undoubtable anger issues. From cursing out rep0orters to chasing kids with his truck on Halloween and smashing the clubhouse thermostat there are numerous anecdotes of his wrath. However, the highlight that is most often used to make the point in retrospectives may be more nuanced than most people remember.

The Indians were in the middle of a weekend series in Milwaukee. Dennis Martinez was matched up with the Brewers’ Ben McDonald. With one out in the top of the second, Manny Ramirez smacked a line drive home run deep down the left field left field line, scoring Jim Thome.

In the top of the third, after adding a run on an RBI single, Albert Belle was on first when Eddie Murray came to the plate. He hit a grounder that Fernando Vina fielded between first and second. Vina almost casually tagged Belle in the baseline and completed the double play by throwing Murray out at first.  

First base coach Davey Nelson had just told Belle to look out for the double play ball. After the play, Nelson was incensed. In a later interview with Spike Lee on Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel Nelson recounted, “`Now it’s three outs. So Albert’s standing out on the infield, and I go out there … and I said, `Dammit Albert, what did I tell you?′ I said … `You cost us a … run, and you should have took the guy out.‴

After Milwaukee pieced together four hits and took advantage of a throwing error in the bottom of the 3rd, the score was tied 3-3.

The Indians began to pull away, scoring once in the 4th and 5th. The Tribe then took advantage of two Brewer errors in the bottom of the 7th, extending the inning and eventually pushing four runs across the plate.

In the top of the 8th, Marshall Boze hit Belle with a pitch to lead off the Inning. After Jim Thome struck out, Belle was once again on first base with Eddie Murray at the plate. Murray bounced an almost identical grounder to Vina at second base. Vina turned to tag Belle and was met with a forearm shiver that sent him sprawling to the dirt. Murray was safe at first. Murray later scored the Indians 10th run on an RBI single by Tony Pena.

Back in the dugout, Belle said something to Indians reliever Julian Tavarez, reportedly telling him to throw at a Milwaukee batter. Tavarez’s first pitch in the ninth went about five feet behind Brewers’ catcher Mike Matheny. The benches emptied and the brawl was on.

Once the dust cleared, Indians reliever Jim Poole secured the final three outs and the 10-4 victory. Later, in the Spike Lee interview, Albert Belle reflected on the play, “`I was going to make sure the next time it happens I wasn’t going to be as lenient.”

Baseball Reference Box Score

Honorable Mention: May 27, 2008 Triple Steal on Botched Rundown

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Game 11

April 17, 1992 – Charles Nagy Complete Game Win

The first inning was a rough one, with two hits, a walk and a wild pitch putting the Indians in the hole by a run to start the game.

However, that would be the only multi-hit inning of the game and the only walk recorded. Nagy recorded seven strikeouts–rather high for the pitcher, who usually relied on his sinker to force ground ball outs–and scatter five additional hits over a complete game.

The Indians offense that evening would prefigure some of the offensive explosions the team was famous for in subsequent years. The five-hit, five-run fourth inning featured a towering two-run home run by Albert Belle and a three-run home run by “Hard Hittin” Mark Whiten.

Carlos Baerga would homer in the top of the 5th, followed by Sandy Alomar in the top of the 6th. Ultimately delivering an 11-1 win in Yankee Stadium.

Although he is remembered best for his efforts with the championship teams of the mid-90s, 1992 was perhaps Nagy’s best year in the majors. He had a 17-10 record (.630), far outpacing the Indians overall winning percentage of .469.

This performance, along with other gems in the first half of 1992 earned Nagy a spot in the 1992 All-Star Game. After pitching the bottom of the 7th for the AL, he batted in the 8th because there were no players left to pinch-hit. Nagy wore a Texas Rangers batting helmet and hit an infield single. He is very likely to be the last pitcher ever to get a hit in an All-Star Game, since the designated hitter has been used in all All-Star Games since 2011.


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