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Game 155

September 23, 1997 – Comeback Win Against the Yankees Clinches the Central

The Indians began the day 7.5 games up on the White Sox with seven games left to play. They had left Kansas City with a bad taste in their mouths after a walkoff single by Rod Myers, but had regrouped over the Monday off-day. The Yankees were 4 games back, but still alive in the East as Kenny Rogers took the mound against Charles Nagy. 

Nagy threw a 1-2-3 first inning, but things went downhill from there. He walked Bernie Williams to lead off the second. Cecil Fielder touched him up for an RBI double, and then Homer Bush dropped a two-run single into left field to put the pinstripes up 3-0. 

Sandy Alomar closed the gap momentarily with a two-run homer in the bottom of the second, but New York answered with a two-run shot by Tino Martinez in the next frame. 

Nagy gave up two runs on four singles in the top of the fifth and left the game with the Yankees up 7-2. Reliever David Weathers did not fare much better. He gave up RBI singles to Rey Sanchez and Bernie Williams that put New York up 9-2. 

Manny Ramirez kicked off the comeback with a leadoff single to right. Matt Williams doubled into center, scoring Manny from first. David Justice grounded out, but moved Williams over to third. Sandy Alomar likewise grounded out, but Williams scored on the play. Kevin Seitzer got aboard with a single before Tony Fernandez put a laser-shot home run into the left field bleachers. 9-6 Indians after six. 

Hideki Irabu put the Tribe out in order in the bottom of the seventh, but David Justice took Irabu’s first pitch over the left field wall. After Sandy Alomar doubled to left, Mike Stanton took over for Irabu on the mound. Tony Fernandez singled in Alomar to make the score 9-8 New York. 

Jeff Nelson came out to pitch for the Yankees in the ninth. He walked Bip Roberts on six pitches to lead off the inning. Omar Vizquel laid down a sacrifice bunt that put Roberts in scoring position. After Manny Ramirez struck out, Matt Williams drew a five pitch walk. David Justice singled in Bip Roberts to tie the game. Sandy Alomar smacked a line drive single into center that pushed Williams across the plate for the biggest comeback win of the season. 

The night then turned to scoreboard watching. Ten minutes after Alomar’s single, the White Sox fell to the Twins and gave the Indians the Central Division crown for the third straight year. 

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Game 144

October 1, 1995

October 1, 1995 – Indians Wrap-Up the Strike-Shortened Season with a .694 Winning Percentage

On the final day of the strike-shortened 1995 campaign the Indians’ historic offense was on full display. Their opponent was the second-place Royals, but this was hardly a pennant race as the Tribe had clinched the division crown back in Game 123. Mathematically, KC was 30 games back coming into this final game. 

After Chuck Nagy got out of a runners-at-the-corners jam in the top of the first, the lineup went to work against Tom Gordon of the Royals. Kenny Lofton led off the game with a single to first. He stole second with Omar Vizquel at bat. Omar drew a walk, and then he and Lofton executed a double-steal with Carlos Baerga at the plate. Carlos lined a single into center to score Lofton. 

Alvero Espinoza came on to run for Baerga, and Albert Belle drew a walk. With the bases loaded, Eddie Murray, Jim Thome, and Manny Ramirez hit consecutive singles and the score was quickly 5-0.

Paul Sorrento drew a walk to load the bases once again. Gordon finally got the Royals first out when he retired Sandy Alomar on a fly out to center. Kenny Lofton struck out before Omar punched a two-out single through the left side of the infield to score one more. 

The bottom of the second was just as rough for Gordon. Belle, Murray, and Thome hit three quick singles to chase Gordon from the game. Mike Magnante came on to pitch for KC and struck out Paul Sorrento. Next up, Sandy Alomar slapped a single into short right field. Pinch-running Brian Giles scored and Thome dug for home. An error by Royals catcher Brent Mayne allowed Ramirez to score and put Alomar on third. Kenny Lofton drove in Sandy with a grounder to first base, making the score 11-0 after two innings. 

At this point, many of the All-Stars and veterans got the afternoon off. The rest of the Tribe’s cruise to an eventual 17-7 victory was marked by highlights such as a leadoff homerun by Billy Ripken in the bottom of the fifth, and an RBI single by Brian Giles. 

The 1995 season is often described as “magical.” The nucleus of players that had been building since the final years of Municipal Stadium all hit their peak. With the Browns moved to Baltimore, the team had the City’s full attention–even on a Sunday afternoon in early October. 

The team delivered a dozen walkoff wins, including the 9-run comeback over the Jays in Game 34, Manny’s “WOW” homer in Game 71, and Albert Belle’s game-winning grand slam in Game 73. It was truly a magical time and a lineup that may never be surpassed. 

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Game 135

September 5, 1992 – Walkoff Win Against the Mariners Prefigures Biggest Matchups of the 90s

The 1992 Indians were 62-73 and in dead last in the American League East. The only team with a worse record were the Mariners at 56-80. Both teams were in the midst of decades-long rebuilding programs. The Indians had not made the playoffs since 1954, and the Mariners had their first winning season in franchise history in 1991–with a record of 83-79.

However, both teams had some rising stars that would later become some of the biggest figures in baseball. This late-season series between two basement dwellers prefigured some of the highest-profile matchups of the mid to late 1990s. 

Charlie Nagy was matched up with Randy Johnson for the Saturday afternoon matchup on the lakefront. Randy Johnson was tall, and he could throw a fastball but he was not yet “The Big Unit.” In fact, he led the league in walks in 1990, 1991, and 1992. 

Ken Griffey Junior blasted Nagy’s 2-1 pitch deep to right-center to lead off the top of the second with a home run. 

Nagy had his sinker working. He got out of both the second and fourth innings on ground ball double-plays. 

In the top of the fifth, Mariner’s catcher David Valle sent a line drive onto the home run porch in left to make it 2-0 Mariners. 

The Indians jumped ahead in the bottom of the fifth with a two-out bases-loaded single by Carlos Baerga tied the game. Then Albert Belle dropped one in over the third baseman’s head. Albert raced into second base as Felix Fermin and Baerga scored to give the Tribe a 4-2 lead. 

After consecutive walks in the sixth, Nagy was replaced by reliever Kevin Wickander. Wickander walked Griffer to load the bases, and then walked Tino Martinez on four pitches to cut the Indians lead to one run. Jay Buhner’s sacrifice fly tied the game 4-4. 

Randy Johnson pitched 7 ⅔, struck out eight Indians and walked seven. Jeff Nelson came in to match up with Paul Sorrento and recorded the final out of the eighth. The Indians then faced Russ Swan in the bottom of the ninth. After a Kenny Lofton groundout, Swan walked Felix Fermin. Carlos Baerga slapped a single through the left side of the infield that put the speedy Fermin on third. 

Wayne Kirby came on to pinch run for Fermin and Albert Belle came to the plate. Belle punched one past the shortstop and into the outfield. Kirby came home to score the winning run. 

Albert was 3 for 5 on the day with 3 RBI and a stolen base. He was coming into his own as one of the AL’s premier hitters. He would go on to lead the league in RBIs in 1993, as well as in 1995 (when he was robbed of the MVP) and 1996. 

Late in the 1992 season, Randy Johnson met Nolan Ryan during a series against the Rangers. Ryan suggested a slight change to Randy’s delivery that he credits with giving him greater control. For the next four years, Johnson led the league in strikeouts. He became a fixture in big matchups with the Indians. He was the Mariners on Opening Day starter in 1994 when the Tribe opened up Jacobs Field. He also the visiting starter in Game 3 of the 1995 ALCS. 

Both teams matured and came together during the strike-shortened 1994 season, and both achieved long-awaited playoff berths in 1995. Both clubs are still in search of a World Series trophy in this century.

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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 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 75

June 28, 1992 – Indians Comeback Win After Jacobs Field Groundbreaking

The corner of Carnegie and Ontario did not always look like it does today. This 1927 map from the Cleveland Public Library archive shows the tangle of eastside streetcar lines converging on the Central Market before heading north to Public Square.

This 1951 aerial photograph shows the dense neighborhood of offices and warehouses that formerly stood where the ballpark is now.

For a more detailed look, check out this interactive map from the Cleveland Public Library.

In May 1990, Cuyahoga County voters narrowly approved the “Sin Tax” which charged 1.9 cents on a can of beer and 4.5 cents on a pack of cigarettes for 15 years. This revenue stream opened the door for the creation of the Gateway Economic Development Corporation and the construction of both Jacobs Field and Gund Arena.

On June 28, 1992, the Indians invited Mel Harder who had thrown the first pitch in Municipal Stadium to throw a ceremonial first pitch at the Jacobs Field construction site. Charles Nagy and Sandy Alomar Jr. were the battery representing the new Indians that would move into the new stadium at the start of 1994.

After the speeches and photo opportunities at the construction site, Dennis Cook started against Jack Morris and the Blue Jays back down on the Lakefront at Municipal Stadium.

It was a high-scoring affair. Joe Carter and John Olerud both homered off Cook in the first inning, giving the Jays a 3-0 advantage out of the gate.

The Tribe answered by sending all nine batters to the plate in the bottom of the first and plating four runs. Carlos Baerga extended the lead to 5-3 in the bottom of the second with an RBI single.

Joe Carter tied things up in the top of the seventh with a two run single into short left field. Jeff Kent put the Jays on top in the top of the 8th with a solo home run off Steve Olin.

With leadoff man Alex Cole on second, Paul Sorrento socked a home run over the center field wall in the bottom of the eighth to put the Tribe up 7-6.

Eric Plunk pitched a 1-2-3 ninth to earn a save and close out a celebratory day in Indians history.

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Honorable Mention: June 28, 2010 – Travis Hafner Scores Winning Run on Jayson Nix Squeeze Bunt

Nix said. “I think I’ve done it in the minors, but this definitely was the first time in the majors for me. I needed to make sure I didn’t square too early to tell them it was coming, and I needed to get it down. He threw a fastball, which made it easier.”

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Game 50

May 31, 1992 – Charles Nagy Win, Steve Olin Save

Before John Rocker played Twisted Sister, Chris Perez was the Firestarter, Andrew Miller told hitters to “Beat it,” and before Cody Allen reminded batters that “God’s Gonna Cut You Down” there was the Yellow Submarine. The Municipal Stadium organist would pipe up with a few bars of the Beatles jaunty classic as Steve Olin made his way from the bullpen to the mound.

Much like hockey goalies, closers have always been a bit different. Pitchers with short memories, and more than a few eccentricities probably because they only make the news when they fail.

Steve Olin came to the Indians via the 16th round of the 1987 amatuer draft. Since high school, various coaches had tried to get him to change his delivery and focus on a more traditional pitching style. Olin always insisted that he would make it with the submarine delivery that he felt comfortable with–he said that he learned it skipping stones as a child–or he would not make it at all.

By 1992, Olin was effectively the Indians closer, although manager Mike Hargrove had reservations about using Olin against left-handed hitters.

Charles Nagy was matched up with Jim Abbott for this Sunday afternoon game in Anaheim. Nagy. With the bases full of Angels in the bottom of the first, Rene Gonzales grounded out to second and the only out was the force at second. Two runs scored to put the Tribe in an early hole.

The Indians tied it up on two unearned runs in the top of the second. Both pitchers settled in after this point. Ultimately Nagy would go seven innings, giving up five hits, four walks and only the two runs noted above.

Abbott pitched seven innings, giving up seven hits, while recording four strikeouts. Carlos Baerga would drive in the Indians final two runs on a single in the top of the 5th and a fielder’s choice in the top of the 7th.

Olin was brought in to face Angel’s catcher Lance Parrish. On his fourth pitch, Parrish grounded into a game-ending double play off one of Olin’s submarine sliders. Olin got his 10th save of the season as the Tribe secured the 4-3 victory.

By season’s end, Olin  saved 29 games out of 36 opportunities. He set a club record with 72 appearances by a right-handed pitcher while posting an ERA of 2.34. Indians GM John Hart once remarked, “He had the heart of a lion, the guts of a burglar. He courageously threw that fringe stuff up there and got people out.”

Prior to the 1993 season, the Indians had only one off day built into their Spring Training schedule on March 22. Olin, Bob Ojeda, and strength coach Fernando Montes visited newly-signed reliever Steve Crews property on Lake Nellie near Winter Haven. Tragically, all three pitchers were involved in a boat accident after the cookout. Olin and Crews passed away from injuries sustained when the boat struck a neighbor’s dock.

Charles Nagy was particularly affected by the loss of the two young pitchers who treated him as something of a mentor, so it seemed appropriate to note this game which was one of two where Nagy was credited with the victory and Olin with the save.

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Honorable Mention Loss: June 4, 1974 – 10 Cent Beer Night

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