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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. 

Baseball Reference Box Score

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

Baseball Reference Box Score

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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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Game 1

April 16, 1940 – Bob Feller’s Opening Day No-Hitter

The 1940 season began on a chilly day on the south side of Chicago. With a high temperature of 48 degrees, the bats were not expected to be hot. Blustery winds off Lake Michigan held the crowd down to just about 14,000. Few of those fans could have predicted that they would witness a piece of baseball history that has yet to be repeated.

In his fourth season in the League and second year as the Indians’ Opening Day starter, Bob Feller was maturing into full dominance. Feller came to the Major Leagues directly from high school at age 17. His fastball was the stuff of legend. In the absence of radar gun technology, “Rapid Robert” once raced his fastball against a motorcycle in Chicago’s Lincoln Park at the request of the MLB Commissioner. 

Game 1 of the 1940 season would only further Feller’s legendary status. Feller striking out the talented Luke Appling looking to begin the second inning. Then, Chicago outfielder Taffy Wright reached on an error by Roy Weatherly. Feller recorded another strikeout, but after several walks, the bases were loaded. Feller struck out rookie Bob Kennedy to quell the threat. 

The Indians lone run came on an RBI triple from Rollie Helmsley in the top of the fourth inning. After settling in from some early walks, Feller was in the groove. He retired 20 straight Sox on the way to his greatest test of the game. 

With two outs in the ninth, future Hall of Famer Luke Appling battled Feller for a 10-pitch at-bat. Appling fouled off four two-strike pitches and finally drawing a walk. With the tying run at first, Taffy Wright stepped in for Chicago. He smashed a hard-hit ball to the right side of the infield. Rookie second baseman Ray Mack made a diving stop and narrowly threw out Wright at first to seal the game and complete the first and still only Opening Day no-hitter. 

“I think I’ve thrown faster several times,” Feller said following the game. “Of course, the wind behind me helped make me faster. But I couldn’t seem to throw a curve very well.”

Randy Johnson was perhaps the closest to matching this feat. In the first Home Opener at Jacobs Field in 1994, Johnson took a no-hitter into the eighth inning.  

Feller was in the press box at that game, pacing the aisles and urging the team to get a hit. Feller was visibly relieved when Sandy Alomar poked a single between first and second base in the bottom of the 8th to keep his 54-year-old feat unique in the history of the game. He celebrated with the rest of Cleveland when Wayne Kirby won the game for the Tribe with a single in bottom of the eleventh.

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