Uncategorized

Game 158

September 26, 1973 – Gaylord Perry Complete Game Shutout to Win His Final Four Starts

Gaylord Perry spitballed his way to the 1972 Cy Young Award –the first for an Indians pitcher–by posting a 24-16 record for the worst team in the American League. 

In 1973, he continued to baffle hitters both with legal sliders and forkballs along with the occasional illicit greaseball. Gaylord came into this game with an 18-19 record. He was the hard-luck loser much more often in the 1973 season. The Tribe had long been mathematically eliminated from the playoffs–their 69-89 record had them 26 ½ games off the pace in the AL East–but Gaylord Perry never stopped trying to fool the opposition. 

He retired the Red Sox side in the top of the first. Bill Lee likewise threw a 1-2-3 inning for the Sox in the bottom of the frame. 

Perry gave up a hit to Carl Yastrzemski to lead off the top of the second, but Yaz was quickly erased by a 6-4-3 double play ball off the bat of Orlando Cepeda. 

Tribe DH John Ellis smashed a homer to lead off the bottom of the second, thrilling the 1,453 fans on hand at Municipal Stadium. 

Perry was challenged with Red Sox in scoring position in the top of the fifth after Frank Duffy got aboard on a bunt and was advanced to second by a Walt Williams single. In the sixth, the Sox had runners at second and third when Orlando Cepeda came to the plate. Perry struck Cepeda out looking to end the inning That was the last time a Red Sox hitter would reach base this evening. 

Sox pitcher Bill Lee did his part as well. He gave up only the one run on seven hits and no walks. 

In the top of the ninth, Perry faced the heart of the Sox order. He got Reggie Smith to fly out.  Yastrzemski grounded out to second. Orlando Cepeda struck out to end the game. It was Perry’s fourth win in a row, and brought his record to 19-19 for the season. For the second year in a row, Perry had a league-leading 29 complete games. 

Baseball Reference Box Score

Standard
Uncategorized

Game 149

September 20, 2000 (Game 2) – Omar Vizquel Catches Cormier Sleeping, Straight Steals Home

The Indians were fighting for the Wild Card spot and Boston was trying to keep their fading playoff hopes alive as the Indians visited Fenway to play back-to-back doubleheaders in the middle of the week. In Game 1 on Wednesday, the Indians defeated Pedro Martinez for the first time in 10 games. In Game 2 Dave Burba was matched up with Paxton Crawford. 

Troy O’Leary doubled to left field to lead off the bottom of the second. After a Trot Nixon strikeout, Lou Merloni drove in O’Leary with a line drive to deep left field. 

In the bottom of the fourth, the Red Sox extended the lead to 3-0 when Scott Hatteburg doubled with two outs. Lou Merloni followed with an RBI double, and then Brian Daubach drove in Merloni with a liner into center field. 

The Indians came up with their own two-out rally in the top of the fifth. Bill Selby was hit by Crawford’s pitch to get on base. Kenny Lofton moved him over to second with a single into center field. Omar Vizquel drew a five-pitch walk. Robbie Alomar poked a single into left-center that scored Selby and Lofton. Robbie and Omar executed a double-steal with Manny Ramirez at the plate. 

Manny drew a walk to load the bases, and Rheal Cormier came in to relieve Crawford. Cormier entered the game facing Jim Thome with the bases loaded. Cormier was focused on his pitches to Thome and took his time moving into the stretch for every pitch. He neglected 33-year old Vizquel on third. Jim Riggelman took two steps out of the third base coaches box and appeared to just say “Go.” Vizquel broke for home, and barely had to slide as he came in to score the tying run.

Cormier never even attempted a throw to the plate. 

Trot Nixon smashed a home run over the wall in left-center to lead off the bottom of the fifth and put the Sox up 4-3. 

In the bottom of the sixth, Steve Karsay came on to pitch against Lou Merloni who already had two doubles in the game. Scott Hatteberg was on first. Karsay got Merloni to ground out into a 4-6-3 double play. 

Chan Perry grounded out to begin the Indians’ half of the seventh. Kenny Lofton singled to right and then Omar walked. With runners on first and second, Rich Garces came on in relief for the Sox. Robbie Alomar flied out to center, but Manny Ramirez and Jim Thome plated two runs with back-to-back singles. 

Steve Karsay and Paul Shuey held things down through the late innings, before closer Bob Wickman came in to face Merloni with the bases loaded in the bottom of the eighth. Wickman got Merloni to ground into a 5-4-3 double play to end the eighth. He was able to close the door in bottom of the ninth to seal the 5-4 victory. 

Omar would repeat this feat several times throughout his career. Although he had moved on from the Indians by then, his straight-steal of home in 2008 at age 41 bears quite a resemblance to the play above.

No Indian completed a straight steal of home again until Grady Sizemore in Game 129 of 2005.

Baseball Reference Box Score

Standard
Uncategorized

Game 142

September 20, 1929 – Joe Sewell’s Consecutive Strikeout-less Streak Ends

Joe Sewell was signed to the Indians in 1920 to replace Ray Chapman at shortstop after he died as the result of a hit by pitch in Game 111. On arrival in Cleveland, first baseman George Burns gave him a forty-ounce bat.  Sewell cared for that bat, never broke it, and used “Black Betsy” for his entire major league career. He quickly got up to speed and helped the Tribe win the 1920 World Series. 

Black Betsy – Baseball Hall of Fame

On this Friday afternoon in 1929, the Indians were visiting Fenway Park. Ken Halloway took the bump for the Indians against Danny MacFayden. Sewell, who had a legendary eye at the plate had last struck out in Game 27  back on May 19th. 

Holloway and MacFayden dueled through four scoreless innings. In the top of the fifth Sewell flied out to lead off the inning. Johnny Hodapp singled to center. Joe’s brother, catcher Luke Sewell, singled into right and advanced to second on a throwing error. Ken Halloway walked to load the bases and Dick Porter drove in Hodapp with a sacrifice fly. 

Earl Averill walked to lead off the Indians half of the sixth. Lew Fonseca singled into right to advance Averill to second. Left fielder Ed Morgan popped one foul and was put out by the Sox catcher. Joe Sewell stepped in against MacFayden, and struck out. 

It was the first time that Sewell had gone down on strikes in 115 games, or 516 plate appearances. Much like Ted Williams, Sewell benefitted from incredible vision and quick processing. He claimed that he was able to see his bat strike the ball. 

Johnny Hodapp drove in two with a double down the right field line to put the Tribe up 3-0. 

Holloway allowed a single by Phil Todt in the bottom of the sixth, but quickly erased it with a 6-4-3 double play. 

Indians right fielder Dick Porter tripled in the top of the seventh. Jackie Tavener plated Porter with a single into right. The Indians had a 4-0 lead. 

The Sox would score twice in the bottom of the seventh and eighth innings, but the Indians 4 runs stood up. Wes Ferrell took over for Holloway with one out in the bottom of the eighth and carried the Tribe to an eventual 4-2 victory. 

Sewell’s strikeout-less streak is one of several records that seem unlikely ever to be broken. Mookie Betts made news when his strikeout-less streak ended at 129 plate appearances in 2017. 

Sewell was so talented at making contact that he averaged just ten strikeouts per season for his career. From 1925 to 1930 he struck out only 33 times while playing every game of the season. While still 1,000 games behind Cal Ripken and Lou Gehrig, Sewell’s consecutive games played streak of 1,103 is good for seventh in MLB history. In his fourteen year career with the Indians and Yankees, no pitcher ever struck out Joe Sewell more than four times. 

Baseball Reference Box Score

Standard
Uncategorized

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.”

Baseball Reference Box Score

Standard
Uncategorized

Game 124

August 23, 1986 – Andre Thornton Game-Winning Pinch Hit

The 1986 Indians were playing just above .500 ball, but were just one game out of last place in the American League East. A crowd of over 40,000 came down to the Lakefront to see the first place Red Sox. Knuckleballer Tom Candiotti was starting against Tom Seaver in the marquee pitching matchup of the weekend. 

In the top of the third, Wade Boggs struck first for the Red Sox with a solo home run off Candiotti. 

The Tribe bounced back in the bottom of the third when Brook Jacoby led off the inning with a single. Seaver walked Tribe catcher Chris Bando. Jacoby advanced to third on a fielder’s choice and was driven home on a Julio Franco single. Joe Carter hit another single, putting runners on second and third with one out. Mel Hall grounded out, but Tony Bernazard hustled home to give the Indians a 2-1 lead. 

The Indians extended their lead in both the fourth and fifth innings. An RBI single by Chris Bando and a solo home run by Joe Carter, respectively gave the Indians a 4-1 lead after 5. 

The Tribe threatened again in the bottom of the sixth. They chased Seaver from the game with consecutive singles by Jacoby and Bando. Sammy Steward replaced Seaver and walked the first batter he faced to load the bases. Julio Franco hit into a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning. 

Candiotti gave up a double to Marty Barrett and a walk to Jim Rice in the top of the eighth. Ernie Camacho was brought in for relief. Camacho walked Don Baylor to load the bases. Dwight Evans singled to drive in a run, and then Rice scored on a Bill Buckner groundout to cut the Indians’ lead to 1 run. 

Rich Gedman got aboard with a leadoff double in the top of the ninth and advanced to third on a groundout. Wade Boggs lofted a fly into foul territory in left field. Mel Hall put Boggs out on the fly, but Romero tagged up to win the game. 

Bob Stanley came in to pitch the bottom of the ninth for the Sox and he brought his gas can to the mound. Chris Bando drew a walk. Tony Bernazard singled. Julio Franco hit into a fielders choice, leaving runners at first and second. Joe Carter singled to load the bases. Tribe Manager Pat Corrales called on Thunder Thornton to pinch hit. Andre knocked a game-winning single for a 5-4 final score. 

Throughout the 1980s, Thornton was one of the most beloved ballplayers in Cleveland. He was a prolific home run hitter and run producer on a team that was often mediocre at best. Thornton played 11 seasons for the Indians, mostly as a DH. During his tenure, the Tribe finished above .500 just three times. 

Baseball Reference Box Score

Standard
Uncategorized

Game 83

July 16 , 1946 – Indians Beat Red Sox by Employing the “Ted Williams Shift”

Baseball’s stars mostly returned to the game in 1946. On this Tuesday afternoon, Bob Feller was on the hill for the Indians against Tex Hughson at Fenway Park. Another all-time great who gave up three years of baseball to serve in the Marines would step into the box against Feller–Ted Williams. 

Two day before, the Indians had a doubleheader with the Red Sox. In the opening game, player-manager Lou Boudreau went 5-for-5 with four doubles and a homer. Ted Williams hit three home runs and went 4-for-5. All of his hits were to right field. This was not the first or the last time Boudreau’s hitting was overshadowed by Williams. 

Boudreau led the AL with a .327 average in 1944; however, this honor always came with the asterisk that Williams was busy serving as a second lieutenant in the Marine Corps in between winning his six batting titles. 

Between games, Boudreau proposed a radical solution. When Ted Williams came to the plate in the second game, the Indians defense changed their alignment drastically. 

A Fleer Baseball Card Depicting the Shift

When Williams saw the shift for the first time, he turned to the umpire and said, “What the hell is going on out there? They can’t do that.” 

They could, though. Boudreau had checked the rules. The current edition of the MLB Rulebook is 184 pages long. The clause that implicitly allows a defensive shift is rather succinct: 

5.02(c) “Except the pitcher and the catcher, any fielder may station himself anywhere in fair territory.”

The Tribe shifted on Williams and held him to only one hit in the second game of the double-header, but managed to lose 6 to 4. 

Seeing the success of his new strategy, Boudreau continued to apply the shift two days later in Game 83. The Indians got on the board early when a long fly out by Pat Seerey allowed George Case to tag and score. Ken Keltner made the lead 2-0 with a home run to lead off the top of the second. 

Heinz Becker led off the Indians’ half of the fifth with a double and was driven in by catcher Jim Hegan. Pat Seerey led off the top of the sixth with another home run to make the score 4-0. 

In the bottom of the sixth, Ted Williams beat the shift with a line drive to center field that went for a triple and scored Johnny Pesky from second. 

Jim Hegan answered with a triple of his own in the top of the seventh, which again plated Becker. 

Williams singled to left in the bottom of the eighth, but it came to naught as Feller retired the next three Red Sox in order. Overall on the day, Feller gave up three runs on nine hits but it was good enough to get the complete game win after squashing a late comeback attempt that included a two-run double by Dom DiMaggio in the bottom of the ninth. Williams went 2 for 5 with the triple noted above as the only highlight. 

Boudreau would continue to use the shift against Williams throughout the mid-40s. Cardinals manager Eddie Dyer would use a similar tactic against Williams to win the 1946 World Series. Eventually he trained himself to be less of a pull hitter, but that required major adjustments to his approach. 

Of course, statistical analysis and sabermetrics has made the shift commonplace over the past 10 years or so. As FiveThirtyEight noted, this was likely due to changing perceptions rather than a change in effectiveness. The shift has always been a good idea–the manager just looks silly when it fails. The team that has embraced defensive shifts most fully is probably the Astros, who have used a very similar extreme shift against pull hitters such as Joey Gallo. 

It is hard to overstate how shocking this was to the baseball establishment at the time. Lou Boudreau is remembered not only as a talented hitter in his own right, but also as an innovative manager who knew the rules and how to bend them. 

Baseball Reference Box Score 

Honorable Mention – July 1, 2014 – Tribe Turns 7-2-4 Triple Play

Standard
Uncategorized

Game 79

July 19, 1909 – Neal Ball Makes First-Ever Unassisted Triple Play

Cy Young was pitching for the Indians at League Park against Charlie Chech and the Red Sox in the first game of a Monday double-header.

The play-by-play of the game has been lost to history, but plenty of newspaper accounts preserve the box score and much has been written about the events that make this game notable, even 110 years later.

With the Naps up 1-0 in the top of the second, Boston’s Heinie Wagner singled to lead off. Jake Stahl moved Wagner over to second base with a bunt single. The hit-and-run was initiated with Amby McConnell at the plate. McConnel, lined the 3-2 pitch up the middle and Wagner was on his way to third on contact.

Neal Ball leaped to spear the line drive was it passed directly over second base. The ball stuck in his glove, and he landed on second, forcing out Wagner who was most of the way to third. Stahl attempted to reverse course, but Ball ran him down between first and second to record the third out.

Neal Ball’s Unassisted Triple Play Glove. Photo: National Baseball Hall of Fame

The play happened so quickly, that initially there was confusion. Cy Young asked Ball why he was headed to the dugout. “That’s three outs,” he deadpanned. Once fans at League Park realized what they had seen, they showered the field with their hats in celebration.

Ball himself later recounted the play, “I didn’t think there was a chance of getting it but I was on the move toward second and I gave it a try anyhow. It was dead over the bag by then so I jumped and the darned thing hit my glove and stuck. The rest was easy. Wagner was way around third base somewhere and when I came down on the bag he was out. I just stood there with my hands out and Stahl ran into them. He was halfway down when the ball was hit and couldn’t stop. That’s all there was to it. I can still remember how surprised I was when the ball hit in my glove.”

It so often seems that at player that makes a spectacular defensive play follows it up with offensive heroics. Whether this is due to adrenaline, a run of good luck, or additional swagger, it was certainly true for Neal Ball. With the crowd still cheering the triple play, he hit Chech’s first pitch of the third inning deep into League Park’s spacious outfield. He rounded the bases for an inside-the-park home run.

The Naps would go on to win the game 6-1.

There have been only 15 unassisted triple plays in Major League History. The Indians are the only team to have recorded three. In addition to Ball’s triple play, Bill Wambganss recorded the only unassisted triple play in World Series history in the 1920 Series against Brooklyn and Asdrubal Cabrera put out three Blue Jays in Game 38 of the 2008 season.

Neal Ball remains the only player in MLB history to record an unassisted triple play and a home run in the same inning–a feat that is unlikely to ever be matched.

Baseball Reference Box Score

Retrosheet Information

Honorable Mention: July 1, 2016 – 19 Inning Win Over Toronto on Canada Day

Standard