Tribe wins on walk-off walk

It’s been a wild season, so it’s only fitting that we add a walk-off walk to the list of ways the Tribe stumbled upon a victory.

Michael Brantley is the first Indian to draw a walk-off walk since Kenny Lofton in 2007 and just the sixth in the Jacobs Field era.

The first man on the list was Rene Gonzales, who walked only five times in his very brief Indians career. On an unrelated note, he’s also the last – and probably only – Tribesman to wear No. 88.

Shelley Duncan is Mr. Clutch

I was going to wait until tomorrow to write this up, but when I saw the name it produced I was too excited to wait.

Shelley Duncan pinch hit for Travis Buck (who had pinch-ran for Travis Hafner) in the 10th inning of tonight’s win over the Royals. Duncan promptedly ripped a RBI double into the left-field corner to give the Tribe a 4-3 lead.

It was the Indians first go-ahead pinch-hit RBI in extra innings since Kenny Lofton singled in Josh Barfield in a game against the Tigers in August, 2007.

But that’s not the best of it.

You have to go all the way back to 1988 to find the last go-ahead pinch-hit extra-base RBI in extra innings, when Ron Kittle homered against the White Sox in the 11th inning to break a 4-4 tie.

Hows that for a random note? From Ron Kittle to Shelley Duncan – two names that will live forever in Indians lore.

In between Kittle and Duncan, Ellis Burks, Jody Gerut, Lou Merloni and Lofton were the only others with pinch-hit go-ahead RBI in extra innings.

Tribe wins on squeeze

Thursday’s win over the Red Sox was all kinds of awesome. Not only do they send the Red Sox to their worst winless start since 1945, but they do so in 1-0 fashion on an Asdrubal Cabrera suicide squeeze. How can you beat that?!

Here are some fun notes on the day:

  • The Indians were the first team to successfully execute a squeeze in a 0-0 game in the 8th inning or later since Aug. 26, 2000, when Jerry Hairston of the Orioles laid down a squeeze to score former Indian Trinidad Hubbard from 3rd. They would go on to win 2-0 over the Devil Rays.
  • They’re also the first team to win 1-0 on a squeeze play in their last at-bat since the Seattle Mariners on May 19, 1983 against the Angels. Jamie Allen laid down a bunt, scoring Julio Cruz from 3rd. I did some searching on Google to verify that it was a squeeze and was able to find the AP story. Pretty cool stuff.
  • And here’s one you’re not going to believe. The last Indian to lay down a squeeze in a 0-0 game? Albert Belle. In the 1st inning on July 9, 1994 against the Twins, Belle laid down a squeeze to score Kenny Lofton. The Tribe would go on to win 4-3. Here’s the AP article on that game.

Squeeze play is back in Cleveland

On Monday night Jayson Nix executed a perfect squeeze play with Travis Hafner on 3rd to give the Indians a 2-1 lead, which they would hold to for the win. It was the second successful squeeze for the Indians this season.

Unfortunately, it’s difficult to determine exactly when a squeeze has been executed by going through box scores, but on baseball-reference’s play index we can come pretty close. Using their “event finder” we can find sacrifice bunts with a runner on 3rd base. Technically, a squeeze play can result in a hit, if the bunt is placed in such a way that the official scorer rules that the runner would have been safe regardless of what the fielder did with the ball. However, that is certainly a rare occurrence.

Using what we can on baseball reference, the Indians two “RBI sacrifice bunts with a runner on 3rd” are their most in a single season since 1993. In fact, Luis Valbuena‘s earlier this season was the first since Omar Vizquel in 2003.

When compiling the list on the right, two things immediately jumped out at me:

1) Albert Belle bunted?! Sure enough, on July 9, 1994 in the Metrodome, Jim Deshaies walked Kenny Lofton who stole 2nd and then 3rd. After another walk was issued to Carlos Baerga, Belle laid down a sacrifice bunt, scoring Lofton from 3rd. It was the 4th and final sac bunt of Belle’s career.

2) Thomas Howard not only had three in one season, but two in ONE GAME! On June 16, 1992 at Cleveland Stadium, Howard officially went 0-3 with 2 RBI. In the 5th inning, following a Lofton triple, Howard laid down a squeeze to give the Indians a 3-2 lead over the Orioles. Then in the 7th inning, with the Tribe up 4-2, Howard laid down ANOTHER squeeze, this time scoring Mark Lewis.