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Game 129

August 26, 2005 – Grady Sizemore Straight-Steals Home

The Indians were north of the border and C.C. Sebathia was on the mound against the Blue Jays and rookie starter Dustin McGowan. 

Grady Sizemore led off the game with a line drive single to center. Coco Crisp tapped one back to the mound and was put out at first, but Sizemore was safe at second. Sizemore advanced to third on a wild pitch before Jhonny Peralta struck out swinging. 

Sizemore noticed that McGowan was barely looking at him, let alone checking him back to the base. Pitch by pitch, he took a larger and larger lead as Travis Hafner worked against McGowan.

“Throughout the at-bat, I just kept going farther and farther,” Sizemore said. “I wanted to see how much they would let me have before they stopped me. They never did, and I told Skins [Third Base Coach Joel Skinner], ‘I can take this.’ “

Despite the two-strike count, Sizemore took a broad walking lead and turned it into a sprint to the plate. McGowan finally saw Grady break out of the corner of his eye, and rushed his pitch, which ended up coming in high. Catcher Guillermo Quiroz did not even attempt to apply a tag as Sizemore slid into home. 

Travis Hafner was as surprised as anyone that Grady would attempt the steal on a two-strike count, “If I had swung and hit Grady in the face, I would have had every woman in America mad at me.” 

Two pitches later, Hafner sent a home run over the Roger’s Center wall. He later jokes with Sizemore, “If I end up with 99 RBIs this year, you’re off my Christmas list.'”

Later in the inning, Ben Broussard notched an RBI with a line drive to left that scored Victor Martinez. The first inning came to a close with the Tribe up 3-0. 

Victor Martinez homered off McGowan in the top of the third. In the top of the ninth, Travis Hafner cracked his second home run of the game–a two-run shot off Justin Speier that drove in Coco Crisp. Victor Martinez followed with a single to right and then Ronnie Belliard took Speier deep as well. 

Sabathia went six innings giving up three runs on six hits. It was not his best outing, but the Indians offense more than covered for any mistakes. Bob Howry faced only seven batters in his two innings of work out of the bullpen, and David Riske closed things out with a scoreless ninth to preserve the 9-3 victory. 

The Indians were on a roll, with an 18-6 record since the end of July. However, they would eventually miss the playoffs after getting swept by the White Sox in the final weekend of the season. 

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Game 62

June 11, 2009 – Seagull Assists on Game Winning Hit

Both the Royals and Indians were struggling in 2009. Jeremy Sowers faced off against the Royals’ Zack Grienke. In a battle to stay out of the basement in the AL Central.

In the bottom of the third, Louis Valbuena led off with a double to left-center. Trevor Crowe advanced Valbuena to third on a well executed sacrifice bunt. Victor Martinez drove him home with an RBI single.

The Royals took a 2-1 lead in the top of the fifth with RBI hits by David DeJesus and Billy Butler.

Throughout late spring in 2009, a flock of seagulls roving around the outfield and roosting in the rafters. A week earlier with the Yankees in town, Nick Swisher remarked, “There’s what, 8,000 seagulls out there?” Yankees outfielder Nick Swisher said. “This ain’t even the beach. It’s Cleveland.”

Indians spokesman Bob DiBiasio spoke to the arrival of the birds and difficulty in getting them to move on,  “Gulls are riding the wind currents up the valley to the ballpark in search for food scraps to feed their young. The Indians are continuing to research ways to control this issue under the guidance of gulls being federally protected.”

The birds were in full force, filling the outfield gaps and taking flight to avoid outfield fly balls. In the top of the eighth, KC extended their lead to 3-1 with a solo home run by Miguel Olivo.

In the bottom of the eight the Indians mounted a comeback. A single by Mark DeRosa and a five-pitch walk to Victor Martinez chased Grienke from the game. DeRosa scored on a grounder by Shin-Soo Choo that was mishandled twice by the Royals. Martinez was forced out at second, but two throwing errors left Choo on second when the dust cleared. Jhonny Perralta then doubled to score Choo and tie the game at 3-3.

Indians closer Kerry Wood pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning to send the game to extra frames. The Royals were unable to get anything going against Matt Hedges in the top of the tenth.

In the bottom of the 10th, Mark DeRosa singled to center to lead off the inning. Kyle Farnsworth issued a walk to Victor Martinez to move DeRosa into scoring position. Shin-Soo Choo came to the plate and poked a single into the flock of birds in shallow center. Royals centerfielder Coco Crisp charged in and appeared to have a play on the ball.

On one hop, the ball struck one of the gulls in the wing. The bird flopped around momentarily and then took flight. Crisp could only throw up his hands as the ball deflected away from him, allowing DeRosa to score the winning run.

After the game, Tribe coach Joel Skinner who has been with the organization both at Municipal Stadium and Progressive Field remarked about the birds, “It’s never been this bad here or at the old ballpark. I just hope I don’t get pooped on.”

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Honorable Mention: June 30, 1948 – Bob Lemon No Hitter

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