July 28, 2014

Indians 5 White Sox 4: Giambi delivers a walkoff for the ages

Jason GiambiTrying to start this recap has not been easy. I am trying to come up with the words to describe the emotions, the ups and the downs, the highs and the lows of last night’s ninth inning at Progressive Field. In a season of magical moments, we have now seen the pinnacle. The best part about it – this moment was delivered by the most popular player in the clubhouse, a 42-year old gray beard who sent Tribe fans everywhere into a frenzy. It was a time warp back to the 90′s when we almost took flashes like this for granted.

And make no mistake, the Indians HAD TO win this game with the pathetically awful Houston Astros providing zero help against the Texas Rangers and the Tampa Bay Rays shutting out the New York Yankees. Losing a game against the Chicago White Sox with your best pitcher on the mound in your home stadium just could not happen.

Getting there required a what felt like a ride on the Millennium Force at Cedar Point. The Indians offense couldn’t muster much against White Sox lefty Hector Santiago. Ubaldo Jimenez again pitched like an ace, departing the game in a 1-1 tie with one out in the seventh inning after giving up a single to Gordon Beckham and a walk to Josh Phegley. It was a tough call for manager Terry Francona, who chose to lift his best starter for reliever Cody Allen. Allen has been terrific this season as well,  but he was greeted by an RBI single from Alejandro De Aza. The 2-1 Sox lead wouldn’t last long.

As he has done time and time again this season, Michael Brantley delivered when his team needed it the most. Earlier in the game, Brantley had driven in the Tribe’s only run on an RBI flair to center in the second. In this at-bat, Dr. Smooth took Santiago deep to right field to tie things up at two. It was his 10th home run of the season, none was bigger than this one. Mike Aviles followed with a single. He would end up on third with two outs, setting the stage for Jason Kipnis. The Tribe’s All-Star second baseman has been in a funk, but with the lead run on third, Kipnis clutched up with a single the other way off of reliever Nathan Jones.

Everything was set up for the Tribe to close things out. Joe Smith pitched a 1-2-3 eighth inning and the Indians held that 4-3 lead into the ninth. Chris Perez came out of the bullpen to face he bottom third of the Sox lineup. There is less than a week left. Every single game means so much. If there was ever a time for CP to make things easy on his team and Tribe fans everywhere, it was this one. Instead, the first batter Perez faced, Dayan Viciedo, took him deep the opposite way to tie the game. Three batters later, De Aza followed suit. After giving up a single to Alexi Ramirez, Francona emerged from the dugout to lift his closer.

I’ve seen a thousands of baseball games in my day, and I can’t ever remember a player getting booed this mercifully in his home stadium. And he deserved every single bit of it.

Here is the thing about baseball. You have to get 27 outs before you can win. The Indians still had one more chance to make magic one more time at Progressive Field.

On came Sox closer Addison Reed, who entered with 39 saves. He blew away Yan Gomes for the first out. Brantley was next. He hit a hard grounder to the hole between first and second. Beckham made a play on the ball, but somehow the ball took a funny hop on him and got into right field. The Indians were suddenly bringing the winning run to the plate. Aviles would K for the second out and the top of the order came back around. Michael Bourn had jammed his shoulder an inning earlier and had been replaced in the game by Drew Stubbs. Matt Carson had come on for defensive purposes in right. He was due up, but Francona had his one big bullet ready – Jason Giambi.

Earlier this summer, Giambi hit a walkoff homer to beat the White Sox. It was one of the most memorable moments of this season to remember. Could he do it again?

Brantley stole second base without a throw and with the shift on for Giambi, any ground ball to the left side would tie the game. After the game, Giambi admitted that this was what he was trying to do. Instead, he got a fastball in that he could drive. And then, this happened.

What an unbelievable moment. Does it get any better than that? Jason Freaking Giambi put himself down in Tribe history forever with one swing. He will never have to buy a beer in this town for the rest of his life. The Indians mastery of the White Sox continued. You have to wonder what the guys in their clubhouse must be thinking. It was the third time the Indians have beaten them with a walkoff homer at Progressive Field. Two of them have come off the bat from the 42-year old part time DH/full time mentor. With one game remaining in the season series, the Tribe has now taken 16 of 18 and 13 in a row against the South Siders.

Now lets get back to Giambi. It has been said time and time again that he is the most beloved player in the clubhouse. Just watch the video again and check out the reaction shots from his teammates. You can see it in their eyes. They couldn’t be more happy for the man they call “Big G.”

Said Nick Swisher: “I almost started crying when he hit that ball.”

“I think I have a man crush on ‘G,’” Francona said. “That was pretty awesome. Boy, did he hit that ball. Wow!”

So how did Giambi feel?

“This is the stuff you dream about,” said Giambi, 42. “Coming down the stretch, trying to get a playoff berth. It doesn’t get any bigger. It really doesn’t. I’m speechless……I ran into it. . .I hit it. There’s nothing more special. That’s what keeps you coming back every year.”

As I said before, losing this game would have been completely devastating, knowing they were three outs away from the win. But as they showed time and time again, the Indians just don’t die.

“That had to have been, by far, one of the more emotional wins that we’ve had, especially considering where we are in the running,” said Swisher. “If you lose that game, man, you never know what’s going to happen. We’re in that position right now where we’ve got to win out. We’ve got to win.”

Now the only lingering question is what to do about Perez. Ever the consummate teammate, Giambi made sure to seek out the Tribe’s embattled closer after the game.

“I made him give me a hug,” said Giambi. “And I gave him a big hug. He was a little down. He needed it. There’s not a worse feeling than being in that situation. I’ve struck out in big situation. He’s going to be a huge part of us all the way down the stretch.”

Francona was asked if he planned on making a move in the closer role. As expected, he is sticking with his guy, saying it was too late in the season to make such a change. Keep in mind though, there is precedent in recent years that has worked. The Cardinals used Adam Wainwright as their closer in 2006 on their way to a World Series title. He had ZERO saves in the regular season. They also moved Edward Mujica out of the role last week, replacing him with Trevor Rosenthal, meaning they will have a new closer in this year’s playoffs.

Regardless, let us not spoil this incredible night with more Perez talk. This is all about Giambi and what he means to this team. So many people were up in arms about keeping him around on the roster all season. I noticed nobody is bringing that up this morning. In a career of high highs and low lows, this was an all timer for Big G.

“Right now it’s top of the world. I don’t think I even touched the ground. They might have been able to appeal because I don’t know if I touched any of the bases,” he said.

Tonight will be the last regular season home game at Progressive Field. A crowd over over 21,000 came out last night. Let us see if we can do better tonight Tribe fans! Danny Salazar (1-3, 3.09 ERA) will take the ball, sans the pitch count, tonight for the Indians. He will face off with Dylan Axelrod (4-10, 5.72 ERA).

(SIDE NOTE – I give STO’s Matt Underwood grief, but his call of Giambi’s blast was terrific)

(photo via Chuck Crow/The Plain Dealer)

 

  • Steve

    Good to know that you’re still your normal crude self. We all still have roles to fill to get this team over the last hill and into the playoffs.

  • Harv 21

    harsh

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    One day grasshopper you will learn to stop doubting the might $hamWow until then read me now and listen later!

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful!

  • Steve
  • The_Real_Shamrock

    He’s lucky I’m in a good mood otherwise I’d verbally assault him without mercy after all I’m a lyrical gangsta. And that’s the bottom line ‘cuz $hamrock said so!

    Now queen my dishes nj0!

  • thenoclist

    ok, way to be an asshole

  • Steve

    Right, they’re pretty awful, but nowhere near off-the-charts bad. And they’re doing exactly what they should be doing.

  • nj0

    broken clocks and all that

  • Steve

    I feel that I’m less of an asshole than the guy who thinks the other people in the forum are his errand boys.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Yawwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwn lucky for you it’s HUMP DAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY!

  • nj0

    I’d rather be a fan of them than the White Sox, Marlins, or Twins at this point.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Jealousy is such an ugly thing!

  • Steve

    I think the Marlins might be closer to being competitive, but Loria will wash away any positive feelings one could have about that team.

  • mgbode

    or, for $4, you can watch all of the games 90minutes after they complete

  • Steve

    As if it isn’t stressful to get through postseason baseball, having to wait and ignore the game until 90 minutes after it completes would be painstakingly awful.

  • mgbode

    where did I defend Chris Perez? he made 3 mistake pitches. If you make mistakes and the other team hits them for HRs, then it’s your fault. with them swinging like that a better pitcher gets 3 SO’s to end the game.

    just noting that the White Sox were swinging for the fences there. If Perez didn’t know that about Chicago, then he didn’t get a very good scouting report.

  • nj0

    Yeah, I just don’t trust ownership there.

  • mgbode

    true. though you can still listen to the games in real-time and then watch the parts you care about seeing afterwards (if on a constrained budget).

  • JNeids

    Dude, while the word “please” wasn’t present, he didn’t demand or even ask rudely. Some people just know where to find things quicker/easier. You just have an inability to be pleasant, like, ever.

  • Steve

    The best defense I can muster for him is that he still hit 95 and his slider was still generating swing-and-misses. He’s got to locate the fastball better, which should be one of the easier things to fix, but it has to be fixed.

  • nj0

    So the radio portion isn’t blacked out?

  • mgbode

    nope. that’s how I had to follow the Astros series.

  • Steve

    I’m plenty pleasant. But the scenarios have been layed out multiple times at this site, both in the comments and in a story. As the link shows, it takes just a few seconds to find the information he’s looking for. I think giving thenoclist a bit of a kick in the rear is the most appropriate response, he’s a big boy, he can handle it. Teach a man to fish versus giving him a fish and all that.

  • mgbode

    ok, let’s ignore what’s going on below. WFNY laid the scenario out a few days ago:

    http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/2013/09/three-way-wild-card-tiebreaker-scenario/

  • CB Everett

    Steve, no one needs you to teach fishing lessons here or to insert your special flavor of dickishness into everyone’s fish dish. Now imagine if you will that this is a lovely restaurant, where we are all enjoying our discussions over fish dinners. Then imagine you are on the outside looking in. Let’s just end the analogy there, where it’s pleasant.

  • Wow

    LMAO

  • Wow

    The best part was the crowd gave Francona a standing ovation and the minute Perez left the mound it was BOOOOOOO!

  • nj0

    Getting chippy around here. Imagine if we lost last night.

  • http://www.waitingfornextyear.com Andrew Schnitkey

    Here’s a link I think everyone should read: http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/before-you-comment/

    Especially the “Furthermore, personal attacks and insults will not be tolerated” part. Now lets please get back to discussing an awesome Indians win and stop fighting with people on the same team. Thanks guys.

  • http://www.waitingfornextyear.com Andrew Schnitkey

    You win today’s internet!

  • Steve

    Since people want this to keep going:

    No one needs me to teach fishing lessons, but no one needs a guy to come pollute the board with “hey guys can you look stuff up for me?” either

  • Rick Manning

    Having lived out of state for 7 years and having MLB.tv, Ive listened to a lot of other teams broadcasters. Underwood isnt great but you can do a lot worse. His call last night was pretty good, I thought.

  • CB Everett

    Thanks Andrew. I apologize for my part. Lost my cool…not a big fan of someone bullying others or being boorish on an otherwise friendly board.

  • gct

    Thank you. Thank you a lot.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    You need to calm your boy Steve down!

  • http://twitter.com/bbo13 B-bo

    I just sincerely hope this moment is as meaningful to us come Monday. If we fall short at the very end, it loses a good deal of its luster. Sorry, but my Cleveland battered fan syndrome just refuses to go away.

  • bupalos

    “Postseason tv” is real cheap, like $5 last year I think. It’s not an announced broadcast, it’s access to raw camera angles. I doubt you’d like it.

    If your computer accesses it from outside of the US/canada, then you can get mlb.tv postseason but that’s $25 so I’m thinking you’re just as well off with a month of cable.

    I having a hard time figuring out whether outside of the country subscribers to regular season mlb.tv get postseason with that or not. If so, I might have a subscription that won’t be needed you could use.

  • bupalos

    I’m not sure why media name recognition is supposed to alleviate the facts on the ground: Houston will lose the most games of any team in the last 50 years outside of Detroit. And but for Miami’s hundred-year offensive drought, they would have a great shot at something that I doubt has ever been done in history: having the worst pitching, worst batting, and worst defense in all of baseball, all at the same time. They are a fraud.

    They are incredibly terrible and have no chance of ever EVER beating Texas EVER period end of story no chance not gonna happen.

    Hope you see what I’m doing here.

  • mgbode

    love that we keep winning. sure wish TB and/or Texas would lose a couple to take the heat off though.