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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.

Baseball Reference Box Score

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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.”

Baseball Reference Box Score

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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.

Baseball Reference Box Score

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Game 9

April 16, 2016 – Couple Getting Frisky in Upper Deck Goes Viral

On a perfect 54° and sunny Saturday afternoon for early-season baseball, one couple temporarily stole the show from the big-leaguers.

In an odd April interleague matchup, the New York Mets came to Cleveland for a weekend series. The announced crowd of 20,165 was solid for an early Spring weekend, but several outfield upper-deck sections were closed.

Josh Tomlin gave up a home run on the third pitch of the game to Curtis Granderson, but then gained his composure. For the Mets, ace Matt Harvey struck out the side in the bottom of the first. Both offenses struggled through the fifth inning.

Around the middle of the 4th inning, Twitter user @savannah3marie posted a photo of a couple in the very top row of a closed seating section in right field with the caption “S/O [shoutout] to the people having sex at the Indians game!”

photo credit @savannah3marie

While the amorous event went largely un-noticed in the ballpark (except for the lone security guard in the photo), it lit up the internet.

Headlines making the most of middle-school metaphors appeared across the web such as “Couple Photographed Scoring Home Run in Nosebleed Seats”, “Couple Covered All the Bases in the Middle of an Indians Game”, and “Fans Ignore Game, Have Sex in Stands Instead” appeared across the web.

In the bottom of the 5th, the Indians took the lead on a double by Jose Ramirez and a single by Juan Uribe, followed by another three runs in the bottom of the 6th and two runs in the bottom of the 7th.

Brian Shaw pitched the top of the 8th and allowed the Mets back into the game, giving up a three-run home run to Yoenis Cespedes and a solo home run to Neil Walker.

Shaw was pulled in favor or closer Cody Allen who recorded the last four outs of the game and sealed the Indians victory.

News Channel 5 later followed up with Cleveland Police. No one was cited in relation to the incident, so it is unclear whether Granderson, Cespides, and Walker had the only home runs in the ballpark that day or not.

Honorable Mention: April 8, 2018 – coldest game in Indians history, Yan Gomes walkoff HR

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