September 23, 1997 – Comeback Win Against the Yankees Clinches the Central
The Indians began the day 7.5 games up on the White Sox with seven games left to play. They had left Kansas City with a bad taste in their mouths after a walkoff single by Rod Myers, but had regrouped over the Monday off-day. The Yankees were 4 games back, but still alive in the East as Kenny Rogers took the mound against Charles Nagy.
Nagy threw a 1-2-3 first inning, but things went downhill from there. He walked Bernie Williams to lead off the second. Cecil Fielder touched him up for an RBI double, and then Homer Bush dropped a two-run single into left field to put the pinstripes up 3-0.
Sandy Alomar closed the gap momentarily with a two-run homer in the bottom of the second, but New York answered with a two-run shot by Tino Martinez in the next frame.
Nagy gave up two runs on four singles in the top of the fifth and left the game with the Yankees up 7-2. Reliever David Weathers did not fare much better. He gave up RBI singles to Rey Sanchez and Bernie Williams that put New York up 9-2.
Manny Ramirez kicked off the comeback with a leadoff single to right. Matt Williams doubled into center, scoring Manny from first. David Justice grounded out, but moved Williams over to third. Sandy Alomar likewise grounded out, but Williams scored on the play. Kevin Seitzer got aboard with a single before Tony Fernandez put a laser-shot home run into the left field bleachers. 9-6 Indians after six.
Hideki Irabu put the Tribe out in order in the bottom of the seventh, but David Justice took Irabu’s first pitch over the left field wall. After Sandy Alomar doubled to left, Mike Stanton took over for Irabu on the mound. Tony Fernandez singled in Alomar to make the score 9-8 New York.
Jeff Nelson came out to pitch for the Yankees in the ninth. He walked Bip Roberts on six pitches to lead off the inning. Omar Vizquel laid down a sacrifice bunt that put Roberts in scoring position. After Manny Ramirez struck out, Matt Williams drew a five pitch walk. David Justice singled in Bip Roberts to tie the game. Sandy Alomar smacked a line drive single into center that pushed Williams across the plate for the biggest comeback win of the season.
The night then turned to scoreboard watching. Ten minutes after Alomar’s single, the White Sox fell to the Twins and gave the Indians the Central Division crown for the third straight year.