August 26, 2014

Oh What a Night

Maybe Chris Perez was onto something.

It is not news that baseball is much better with a stadium packed with fans. Loud and boisterous and cheering for their team, the Indians last night got a taste of what the entire summer could be like every time they take the field if they continue to play the way they are.

I was there last night at Progressive Field. It was my 10th game of the season. Other than opening day (mainly because there were over 43,000 people there), that was easily the best and most vocal crowd of the year. When I saw the attendance figure read just 22,000 on the dot, I couldn’t believe it. It seems like way more to me. Maybe I have been to too many games where there are 8,000 people there. I received a number of tweets after the game that were dead on – imagine how loud it would have been with double the people in the stands?

For the 22,000 who were in attendance like I was, we were greeted to a playoff type atmosphere. This was one of those nights that makes going to a baseball game on summer night “the thing to do.”

My boss was in town for the first time since I came over to my new job (contrary to popular belief, none of the WFNY crew, me included, do this as our real gig. Now if someone wants to pay me a nice salary to do so, I am all yours!). The weather last night couldn’t have been more perfect. 65 degrees, a slight breeze, sunny skies at first pitch. Just a magnificent night. Before the game, I took him by the new casino (which looks great by the way) and walked him up and down 4th Street. If there was ever a weeknight to “show off” Cleveland. People were everywhere, decked out in Tribe gear. There was a buzz in the city.

Then we went inside the stadium to a very nice crowd. The game itself was excellent. Yes, there was sloppy defense, but both The Tribe’s Zach McAllister and Detroit’s Doug Fister were taking turns trying to out-duel each other. With the spector of Justin Verlander looming the next day, the Tribe and its fans all had this sense of “we must win this one.”

With each passing at-bat after Shin-Soo Choo’s sixth inning botched play in right on an Andy Dirks line-drive, you could feel the tension in the air. The Tigers took a 2-0 but the crowd wouldn’t let the Indians, who had just two hits heading into the bottom of the sixth, go away. After a Kipnis leadoff single, I turned to my boss and said “I’m calling my shot here – two-run homer from Asdrubal.” That didn’t happen. However, the next batter was Travis Hafner. I started telling my boss about his recent 1-33 with RISP slump and then said “I’m bad-mouthing so much, he will probably hit a homer to tie the game.”

Sure enough, Pronk delivered.

The place erupted. The game was back on. But the fans would get even better and louder.

Fast forward to the eighth where a Kipnis error, a bloop hit from Delmon Young, and a Brennan Boesch single loaded the bases with nobody out against Tony Sipp and Vinnie Pestano. Vinnie, with the flair for the dramatic, first K’d old friend Jhonny Peralta, and the crowd rose to its feet. We would stay there after the great defensive play by Casey Kotchman on a Ramon Santiago grounder, nailing Prince Fielder at home. There was just one out to go, and the crowd was not going to let Vinnie down. Vinnie didn’t let us down either. On a 3-2 pitch, he whiffed Alex Avila looking and pumped his fist.

Progressive Field was up for grabs. “That eighth inning with Vinnie on the mound, that might’ve been the loudest I’ve ever heard it here,” said Chris Perez.

I am telling you folks, it was an electric feel down at the corner of Carnegie and Ontario. It felt like a playoff game considering the opponent and all of the nervous moments. As the Tribe eventually took the lead on a Hafner fielder’s choice and a Carlos Santana sac fly, there was another deafening moment to come – the entrance of the closer.

Pure Rage said what he said over the weekend, and it may have just energized this fan base. For the second straight time, Perez ran onto the field to a thunderous ovation. After he neatly retired the Tigers 1-2-3 for his league leading 15th save, all 22,000 fans roared as “Cleveland Rocks” blasted from the speakers.

Just a perfect night at Progressive Field. And there will be plenty more to come.

 (photo via Chuck Crow/The Plain Dealer)  

  • MrCleaveland

    Great article, TD. Very enjoyable.

    This Chris Perez standing O thing might be some kind of catalyst like the Thome high socks or pies in the face or that Joe-Boo thing they did one year.

  • Harv 21

    Tigers have not won two in row in over a month. Not sure if this is a good thing or a foreboding buzzkill. Right now their poor clutch at-bats and fielding look like they know this is an important series and the high expectations are wrapped tight aroung their windpipes.

    Hope the Tribe is relaxed enough this afternoon to at least work up up Verlander’s pitch count, get him out by the seventh inning and get Detroit jittery again.  

  • MrCleaveland

    With Fielder at first and Cabrera at third, I wonder why we didn’t bunt on them all night.

  • Bulldogs_3

    There was only one downfall to last night’s game…. Tom Hamilton was out watching his son in the MAC tourney and us radio-goers had to suffer through Heegan and Rosenhouse… 

  • TimK.

    I was at the game last night standing at the front of the Home Run Porch the whole time. From that time Hafner hit that homerun, the place was electric. The bleachers and lower reserve sections were packed. In the 8th and 9th innings, I could have sworn it was 1997 in that place. It was alive. It was a fun game to be at and I hope we get a lot more of those.

  • Karsten Treu

    I was there as well, also for my 10th game of the season. Best one I’ve been to so far, easily.  What a great game, I’m still a little hoarse.

  • Karsten Treu

    The former is gone, he retired from the booth last year… I would have taken him any day over Rosey’s muppet-like calls. I couldn’t wait to get back to the car after the game to hear Hammy’s recap calls, and was crushed when I found he wasn’t there.

  • mgbode

    all things “bode” are good for Cleveland sports :)

  • mgbode

    waiting to unleash that vs. Verlander when we need it

  • Bulldogs_3

    I know Heegan hasn’t been here all year but he was last night as a fill-in

  • http://www.zfcomics.com dgriff13

    Chris Perez lit a fire under my ass, too. I am planning out a weekend trip to FLEE to the CLEVE again, and catch a Tribe game like I did last year. I can handle another 8 hour drive, and my Philly-born husband truly enjoys our field trips back to my hometown. I had a blast last time, I was there for the crazy 8th inning bunt-with-2-outs-to-bring-in-the-winning-run by Carrera (his first ML at bat, I might add), vs. the Reds. The crowd was electric, tho at first I swear everyone was screaming “WHAT THE HECK ARE YOU DOING?!!!”. Bunting with a guy on 3rd with 2 outs? Ooooohhhhhh, Acta. Follow that up with a Sinatra fireworks show, it was a wonderful night. Nearly beat out the whole reason for the trip, my cousins’ wedding.

    Perez may have pissed some of you off with his comments, and he’s not squeaky-clean professional, but he’s right. GET YOUR BEHINDS OUT TO A TRIBE GAME! NO EXCUSES! Cheap tickets AND they’re WINNING! Support the dang team. I am, I have to drive 8 hours to do so (in person).

  • Jeff D

    Did anyone else catch Manny Acta lip-syncing to “Cleveland Rocks” last night when the cameras cut to him for the obligitory “manager walking out on the field after a victory” shot?

    I saw it and loved it.  It’s the little things like that that make me love this team more and more every day.

  • kjn

    Getting to Verlander early. Love it.

  • Julie

    Yes!  It made me laugh out loud.  Loved it.

  • Hypno_Toad

    SWEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP

  • Vindictive_Pat

    Wow 23,000 fans for a day game?  Nice job fans!  That’s very impressive… more people showed up for today’s game than last night’s.

  • AlexMathews

    He’s done that multiple times now! I hope that becomes his new “thing”. It makes me laugh every time.

  • Wow

    “All we need now is something to bring it all together.” Maybe Perez did just that this weekend!