Things are starting to reach a point with the Cleveland Indians that you have to begin believing that stranger, more powerful forces that go beyond comprehension are at work. Tuesday night’s game was just the latest in a long line of examples that make this team feel special. Almost as if they are a team of destiny. How else do you explain a two run walk off home run with two outs in the bottom of the ninth from a 43-year old slugger well past his prime?
Apparently, a little bit of luck goes a long way.
The Indians were just that on Tuesday night as they defeated the Chicago White Sox by a score of 5-4. With the win, the Indians maintained the pace in the AL Wild Card race as both the Rays and Rangers were victorious as well. They still trail the Rays by a full game and lead the Rangers by a full game in the race for the final two American League playoff spots.
The starting pitcher for the Indians on Tuesday night was the suddenly dominant Ubaldo Jimenez and once again he did not disappoint. Over the course of 6.1 innings of work, Jimenez kept the White Sox at bay to the tune of two runs on five hits while striking out seven and walking three. While he didn’t get the win, this was yet another start in which Jimenez baffled the opposing lineup with a wide array of pitches in varying locations. On a few occasions Jimenez even topped out at 96-mph on the radar gun. It’s hard to think where the Indians could be had Jimenez not stepped up following the injury to Justin Masterson.
Offensively, the Indians jumped out to a 1-0 lead early on. Michael Brantley, who was in the center of a lot of the offensive action on Tuesday night, singled home Asdrubal Cabrera in the bottom of the second inning. It would remain the only run the Tribe would score until the bottom of the seventh.
By that point, the Indians had fallen behind 2-1. The White Sox scored their runs in the bottom of the fourth thanks to a sacrifice fly from Avisail Garcia and the seventh when Alejandro De Aza singled home Gordon Beckham. At that point the Sox led by a score of 2-1 with things looking bleak as the Tribe’s offense struggled to get much of anything put together.
In the bottom of the seventh the Tribe got their act together. Michael Brantley led things off with a solo home run to right to tie the game up at 2-2. Mike Aviles followed with a single and was sacrificed over to second by Michael Bourn. Two batters later, Jason Kipnis stepped to the plate with two outs and Aviles sitting on second base. He didn’t disappoint. The Tribe’s all-star second baseman came through with an impressive line drive single to left to score Aviles and put the Indians ahead 3-2. From that point, all that was left was to get some outs and cruise to victory.
Unfortunately, Chris Perez has other plans in mind. He took the mound in the top of the ninth inning to slam the door shut. That didn’t happen. Instead, Perez surrendered the game tying home run to Dayan Viciedo and the go ahead home run to Alejandro “Best Player in the World Versus Cleveland” De Aza. Perez hit the showers a few batters later to a chorus of boos as Terry Francona called upon the ever reliable Bryan Shaw. For Perez, it was another in a long line of shaky outings that has fans covering their eyes and reaching for the Pepto every time he enters a game.
With the score now 4-3 Chicago, you could hear a pin drop at Progressive Field. Both the fans and the Indians sat in stunned silence as they watched the game and their Wild Card security begin to fade away. But, then something strange happened.
With one out, Michael Brantley reached base when second basemen Gordon Beckham fell victim to a wicked hop on a somewhat routine grounder to his left. After stealing second base and a Mike Aviles strikeout, Francona called upon old reliable, Jason Giambi, to take a whack at things as a pinch hitter.
And that’s when the magic happened both at Progressive Field and on Twitter.
Giambi delivered a veteran present as he drilled Addison Reed‘s 1-1 pitch into the visitor’s bullpen in right field. The stadium exploded as the game winning home run sailed off into the night and the veteran Giambi rounded the bases towards the open arms of his teammates. The moment he touched the plate it solidified the Indians 5-4 victory in what may be one of the most unlikely victories in recent memory. Even better, the home run call from Tom Hamilton, who remains the best in the game at exuding the excitement of a typical fan. (Refresh if video player doesn’t load)
And perhaps the most impressive part of Giambi’s heroics? None other than the bat flip once he realized he had just ended the game. It was the sure sign of a true professional while also solidifying Giambi as a stone cold pimp.
So with that, the Indians find themselves sandwiched between to legit contenders in the AL Wild Card race. The Indians control their own destiny in all of this and can guarantee themselves of a spot in the playoffs if they just continue to take care of their own business. This brief, two game set against the White Sox concludes tonight as Danny Salazar takes on Dylan Axelrod. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05. This is also the final home game of the season, so go out and support your team as they make their final push.