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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.”

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Game 106

August 13, 1948 – Crowd Packs Comiskey to see Satchel Paige Pitch a Complete Game Shutout at Age 42

Satchel Paige is sometimes referred to as, “the greatest player ever excluded from Major League Baseball.” Paige dominated the Negro Leagues beginning in the late 1920s, through the 30s, and into the 1940s. Paige even played for a time for the Cleveland Cubs in 1931. It was the first time that he had played in a City with a white major league team. He later said , “I’d look over at the Cleveland Indians’ stadium [League Park]. All season long it burned me, playing there in the shadow of that stadium. It didn’t hurt my pitching, but it sure didn’t do me any good.”

In 1948, Bill Veeck gave Paige a tryout for the Indians. While Veeck is considered a P.T. Barnum like figure for his odd moves and promotions, his contributions to the integration of baseball are often forgotten. The innovative owner had signed Larry Doby as the first black player in the American League in 1947, and saw that Satchel still had something in the tank. 

Satchel Paige and Larry Doby

While there was some outcry that signing Paige was merely another publicity stunt, Bob Feller leaned into the controversy. “Maybe Mr. Veeck did want some publicity, but he wanted a pitcher, too,” he wrote. “There was only one guy around who could fill both orders. That was Ol’ Satch.”

Paige earned his first MLB win–as a 42 year old rookie–on July 15th against the As. He won his first MLB start against the Browns on August 3rd. He had often drawn large crowds for Negro League games or barnstorming tours, but few expected the turnout in Chicago when the Indians went to visit the White Sox. 

When Paige was announced as the starter for the Friday night contest, all of the reserved seats were snapped up. It had been over a decade since Comiskey had sold out so early in advance of a White Sox game. Eventually, 51,013 would pack the South Side ballpark, including Heavyweight Champion Joe Louis. 

The Tribe scored first in the top of the fifth when Larry Doby tripled to lead off the inning and the tagged up on a long fly-out by Jim Hegan. They extended the lead to 2-0 in the eighth when Dale Mitchell drove home Ken Keltner. 

In the top of the ninth, the Indians scored three runs on two hits including an RBI single by Larry Doby. Doby then scored a run with Paige at the plate. He and Jim Hegan executed a double steal, and the Sox catcher committed an error allowing Doby to score making it a 5-0 ballgame. 

Stach pitched brilliantly, never facing more than four White Sox in an inning until the 9th. He was tested a bit in the final frame, when Luke Appling and Pat Seerey hit consecutive one-out singles. Satch recovered and retired the next two Sox to finish off the complete game shutout. 

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Game 105

July 29, 2013 – Jason Giambi becomes Oldest MLBer to Hit a Walkoff Home Run

Zach McAllister was facing John Danks as the Indians were making a late-July surge into the playoff race against the scuffling White Sox. The Tribe entered Game 105 2 ½ games back of division-leading Detroit. 

Jason Giambi was hitting under .200 in his spot appearances so far in 2013. Although he was a clubhouse leader and mentor to many of the younger players, there was plenty of speculation that he would be the victim of trade-deadline maneuvering with his production so low. 

In the bottom of the second, Asdrubal Cabrera reached on a throwing error. Ryan Rayburn knocked a double through the left side of the infield, advancing Cabrera to third. Asdrubal scored on a sacrifice fly by Carlos Santana. 

McAllister held the Sox scoreless through five innings, scattering only two hits on his first two trips through the lineup. In the top of the sixth, McAllister got two quick outs against De Aza and Alexei Ramirez. Alex Rios started the White Sox two-out rally with a double down the right field line. Adam Dunn drove Rios home with an almost identical double. On McAllister’s very next pitch Paul Konerko singled to center, driving in Dunn for the go-ahead run. 

In the bottom of the sixth, Danks walked both Michael Bourn and NIck Swisher to lead off the inning. Jason Kipnis laid down a bunt down the third base line and beat the throw to first to load the bases. Asdrubal Cabrera grounded to short and was put out at first, but Bourn scored the tying run. 

McAllister recovered, pitching a 1-2-3 seventh. Then a combination of Cody Allen, Rich Hill, and Chris Perez held down the 2-2 tie, bringing the Tribe up in the bottom of the ninth. 

Jason Giambi came on to pinch hit for Mark Reynolds. He crushed a 1-1 pitch from right-handed Sox reliever Ramon Troncoso over the center-field wall and into the batter’s eye greenery. 

After a ice-water bath from his teammates, Giambi quipped “I might catch pneumonia. I’m too old to get a bucket of cold water dumped on me.”

With that blast, Giambi became the oldest player in MLB history to hit a game-ending home run. He was 42 years, 202 days old — 45 days older than Hank Aaron when he set the record in 1976. He also sealed his role as the clubhouse leader and veteran guru for the Tribe’s run to the wildcard game. 

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Honorable Mention – August 20, 1995 – Jose Mesa Surpasses Eckersley with 37th Converted Save

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Game 102

July 29, 2017 – Brandon Guyer Scores Go-Ahead Run with Clutch Hit-by-Pitch

Brandon Guyer became somewhat mythical for crowding the plate and sacrificing his body in clutch situations. Guyer led the league in Hit by Pitches in 2016 with 31, seven more than his nearest plate-crowding competition. FanGraphs August Fagerstrom even anointed him the Hit-by-Pitch King, given that he was hit more frequently (normalized for appearances) than any other player in modern history.  

On this day, Corey Kluber was on the hill against the White Sox’ Miguel Gonzales for this Saturday night contest on the south side of Chicago with some sweet 1917 throwback unis. Kluber gave up a seeing eye single to start the game, but then struck out the next three Sox. 

In the top of the second, Carlos Santana walked and then reached second on a fly ball to right field that was mishandled by Alan Hansen. Yan Gomes drove in Santana with a sacrifice fly. 

Kluber retired the Sox in order in the bottom of the second. He used only 10 pitches in the inning. 

Bradley Zimmer and Francisco Lindor notched consecutive singles to lead off the top of the third. Michael Brantley drove in Zimmer with a sac fly to deep center field. An Edwin Encarnacion single brought Lindor in to score. With two outs, Austin Jackson bounced one over the wall in left-center for a ground rule double that scored Encarnacion and made the game 4-0 Indians. 

Jose Abreu cut the deficit drastically in the Chicago half of the third when he cracked a three-run homer to deep left field. In the bottom of the sixth, Kluber got both Matt Davidson and Omar Narvaez to strike out swinging, but with two outs Alan Hansen lined Kluber’s first pitch down the right field line. Tim Anderson followed with a bloop double to short right, which allowed Hansen to score from second and tie the game. 

Andrew Miller held the game in a tie by recording the last two outs of the seventh and all of the eighth. 

In the top of the ninth, Carlos Santana drew a two-out walk from Aaron Bummer. Austin Jackson sent a line drive single into right field, advancing Santana to second. Greg Infante came on to relieve Bummer and hit Yan Gomes with his very first pitch to load the bases. 

Terry Francona brought Brandon Guyer off the bench to pinch hit for Erik Gonzales. On a 1-2 count, Infante hit Guyer sharply in the elbow, sending Guyer to his knees in the batter’s box. Guyer was awarded first base, forcing in Santana for the go-ahead run. In this case, Guyer was hit on the elbow, rather than in the thigh or calf as he took his stride out over the plate. 

Cody Allen retired the Sox in order for the save and the Indians cashed in on Guyer’s willingness to sacrifice his forearm for the win. In a postgame interview Guyer explained, “The goal going up to the plate is to get a run. That’s not how I want to do it, but at the end of the day, it helped our team win a game. I’ll take it.”

Andrew Miller quipped, ” Fortunately, if anybody’s used to it, it’s got to be him.”

Guyer led the league in HBP in both 2015 and 2016, but Shin-Soo Choo currently leads all active players with 143 HBP for his career to date. He is unlikely to catch all-time leader Hughie Jennings with 287 or modern-day leader Craig Biggio with 285. 

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Honorable Mention: August 4, 1932 (Game 1) – First Win in Municipal Stadium 

The Indians played their first game at the Stadium on July 31, 1932, but did not notch a win on the lakefront until August 4th, with 8-2 Victory over the Red Sox. The Tribe hit five triples in their spacious new home. However; fans complained about the massive outfield and after the 1933 season the Indians moved back to League Park until they brought Sunday and Holiday games back to the lakefront in 1937.

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Game 94

July 13, 2014 – Mike Aviles Throws Out Runner at First from Foul Ground

Great defense often does not get highlighted in these kinds of retrospectives, because it does not show up as readily in box scores and stat sheets. However, I can’t pass up a great outfield double-play.

Trevor Bauer was facing John Danks and the White Sox in a Sunday afternoon affair at Progressive Field. The Sox’ Connor Gillespie knocked a single into right field to lead off the inning. Gordon Beckham hooked Bauer’s 2-2 pitch down the left field line.

Although Mike Aviles had made his career playing shortstop, Terry Francona had recently been giving him starts in left field. Aviles raced across the outfield and made the catch right on the chalk. He turned and threw a 280 foot strike to Carlos Santana at first. The throw beat Gillespie by half a step to record the 7-3 double-play. 

Path of 7-3 Double Play

In the bottom of the second, Yan Gomes pushed Ryan Rayburn across the plate with an RBI single up the middle giving the Indians an early 1-0 lead. 

Bauer and Danks scattered quite a few hits throughout the middle innings, but the score remained 1-0 headed into the top of the eighth. The White Sox took advantage of a rough inning by Bryan Shaw. Gillespie scored on a Gordan Beckham single after taking second on a wild pitch. Leury Garcia put the Sox ahead with a single to center that scored Beckham. Shaw was credited with a blown save. 

The White Sox had bullpen problems of their own in the bottom of the eighth. Javy Guerra gave up a leadoff single to Nick Swisher. Then Yan Gomes sent a home run out just inside the right field foul pole to put the Tribe back on top 3-2. 

Cody Allen retired the Sox in order in the top of the ninth to record his 12th save of the season and put the Indians back at .500 with a 47-47 record. 

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July 19, 2006 – Bob Wickman records last save as an Indian. His 139 saves are current club record.

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Game 5

April 20, 1910 – Addie Joss No-Hits Same Team Twice

By most contemporary accounts, Addie Joss was an unusual athlete. Nicknamed “The Human Hairpin” for his extremely long arms and unusual delivery style, Joss had a corkscrew delivery and turned his back entirely to the plate before using a sidearm motion. Despite this dramatic delivery and high leg-kick, he did not fall off the mound in the way that some corkscrew pitchers do. He completed his motion and was ready to field anything that came back up the middle.  

Joss’ fielding was a crucial factor in his 1910 no-hitter. He recorded assists on 10 of the 27 outs, mostly on ground balls. Joss threw only two strikeouts in the entire no-hit performance. The day was not without controversy, however. In the second inning,  White Sox shortstop Parent hit a weak topper to third base. Bill Bradley. Bradley juggled the ball and the throw to first was late. The play was initially ruled a base hit, but the scorer later changed it to a fielding error on Bradley.

Second basemen Terry Turner had the Naps’ lone RBI on the day with the double in the top of the 6th which scored Art Kruger. Having already thrown a perfect game against the White Sox in Game 152 of the 1908 season, Joss became the first pitcher to ever no-hit the same team twice. This record would stand for 104 years, until Tim Lincecum no-hit the San Diego Padres for the second time in 2014.

Joss played for only nine seasons, before he lost his life in April 1911 to tuberculosis meningitis. In 1977, the Hall of Fame’s Board of Directors voted to waive the 10-year tenure rule in Joss’ case and make him eligible to the Hall of Fame. He was inducted by the Veterans Committee in 1978.

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Game 2

April 4, 2001 – 455 Game Sellout Streak Ends

The period between June 12th 1995 (Game 42) and April 4th 2001 will always represent one of the great love affairs between a City and its team. In 1995, John Hart and Dick Jacobs has cultivated a team of home-grown talent that was coming into its prime, the County’s smokers and drinkers had funded the beautiful new retro-modern Jacobs Field via the infamous “sin tax.” And most importantly, the Browns had just moved to Baltimore–leaving both civic affections and corporate season-ticket dollars adrift and looking for a new love. From 1995 onward, the Indians were a juggernaut, dominating public discussion and affection in Cleveland.

Five years on; however, the shine on the new stadium had begun to wear off. The Browns had returned as an expansion team to a new–if hastily constructed–home on the lakefront, and much of the core of the late-90s team had departed by this point. Kenny Lofton, Omar Vizquel, Jim Thome, Manny Ramirez, Sandy Alomar, Paul Shuey, and Chuck Nagy were the only veterans present throughout the entire 455 game run. The Indians were sellers at the trade deadline during the 2000 Season, moving promising outfielder Richie “Big Sexy” Sexson and veteran David Justice prior to the trade deadline.

After a long winter, Cleveland loves a reason to take the day off and perhaps do some day drinking. Along with St. Patricks Day and Dyngus Day, the Home Opener has long been an excuse to skip work or school and turn Downtown Cleveland into a party. That was the case in Monday the 2nd when 42,606 packed into the Jake to watch the Indians lose to the White Sox in Game 1.

Two days later on April 4th, Chuck Finley faced Cad Eldred in Game 2. After 11 years with the Indians, 2001 was catcher Sandy Alomar Jr.’s first year with the White Sox. In the top of the 2nd, Sandy launched a home run off Finley, scoring Herbert Perry (another former Indian). In the bottom on the second, Eldred gave up a leadoff walk to Jim Thome and consecutive singles to Ellis Burks and Jacob Cruz. Russell Branyan struck out swinging with the bases loaded (this would become a familiar refrain in 2001). Ed Taubensee, Alomar’s replacement behind the plate was hit by the next pitch, forcing in Thome. Consecutive singles by Kenny Lofton, Omar Vizquel, and Sandy’s younger brother Roberto Alomar gave the Tribe a 5-2 lead.

The Indians would manufacture another run in the bottom of the 4th, and extend the lead via a Russell Branyan home run in the bottom of the 5th to cruise to an 8-4 victory. The streak ended with only 32,763 fans present for the first night game of the year. At the time,  the stadium seemed empty after 455 consecutive sellouts. In fact, this would be a near-capacity crowd today as Progressive Field’s seating has been reduced to 35,041 with various renovations.

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