Thursday, October 6

Tribe season wrap Part 2: The Highlights

Well, as we know, the Indians' season didn't end in the postseason glory that their 30-15 start made seem possible, as they ended at 80-82. But for a team that ended just shy of .500, the 2011 Tribe generated a lot of memorable moments. Here are some of them:

Beating up on Boston
I'm sure all five of you readers enjoyed the demise of the Red Socks this year, and it wouldn't have happened without the Indians posting a 6-4 mark against the big-money Bostoners. Cleveland beat up on Boston early and often, winning their first four against their AL East rivals, including two memorable games. First was the 1-0 win on April 7, where Fausto Carmona dominated and Asdrubal Cabrera's sacrifice squeeze gave the Indians an early sweep of Boston. Later, on May 23, the Tribe rallied from a 2-1 deficit with two in the 8th and hung on with a game-ending double play in a game I was forutnate enough to attend. This win took the Tribe to 30-15, which sadly would be the high point of the season.

Home cooking
The Indians were stupid-good at home in the early stages of the season, posting 14 straight home wins from April 3 through May 11.

Within that highlight was a shorter, brighter highlight, that being the series from April 29-May 1 where the Indians notched all three wins in come-from-behind efforts. The Saturday game saw Cleveland win a 3-2, 13-inning decision on an Orlando Cabrera RBI single - if that seems odd, keep in mind it would ordinarily have been a routine flyout. The Indians closed out the sweep of Detroit with a 5-4 Sunday decision that saw them tally three runs in the 8th inning to erase a 3-2 deficit and then hold on for the victory.

And even THAT highlight had a more specific, awesomer component, that of course being Carlos Santana's titanic grand slam into the right-field seats to send the Indians home 9-5 winners. Definitely the iconic moment of the season - watch the Indians in the dugout and on the field react to it. Fantastic.

Fast-forward that video to :41 to get Hamilton's call, btw

This random awesome double-hot dog I was served
See photo at right.

Hafner's Seattle walk-off
In a game that a few FCF'ers attended (along with a guy wearing a Mariners Jay Buhner jersey), Hafner turned a 4-3 deficit into a 5-4 victory with a clutch two-out, two-run bomb to centerfield that sent the crowd home happy and gave the Indians a one-game sweep of their series with Seattle.

Sweeping Pittsburgh
Hell, we never do it in football, may as well enjoy it in baseball.

Rookie walk-offs
Injuries and other performance issues meant that a lot of first-year players saw time with the Indians this year, and two of them delivered key walk-off hits. First up was Cord Phelps, who on June 19 delivered a three-run game-winning home run, the first homer of his career, in a rain-delayed 11-inning affair that gave the Wahoos a sweep of the Pirates.

Not to be outdone, rookie phenom Jason Kipnis made his first major league hit really count, sending the Indians to a 3-2 win over the Angels on July 25

Hafner's walk-off grand slam
Didn't we already see this guy?

Midway through the season, the Indians started to struggle a bit, justifiably worrying Friends of the Feather. They seemed to only win games they had to win to stay afloat - of these, Travis Hafner's walk-off grand slam on July 7th against Toronto was one of the most memorable. Trailing 4-0 heading into the 9th, the Indians managed to load the bases and plate one run on Asdrubal Cabrera's RBI single. Hafner came to the plate and just belted one, immediately making one of the coolest gestures I've seen on a diamond, before trotting around to score. How often do you see a team walk off on a play where they had trailed by three before the game-winner was struck?

LaPorta walk-off on Tribe weekend
This year's Tribe Weekend started off really, really badly, with a 12-0 pasting at the hands of the lowly Royals. Things didn't look too good for our heroes the next night either, as they trailed 1-0 headed into the 8th and 2-1 going into the 9th. Kosuke Fukudome's sac fly tied things, setting the stage for Matt LaPorta, whom we'd derided pretty much all game, to deliver a line-drive three-run game-winner. Pretty sweet fireworks, too.

2 out of 3 from the Yankees
To be the best, you gotta beat the best. Actually, that's not true - you can totally win a championship without beating the top player or team, if injury or another team knocks them out first.

Nevertheless, from July 4-6, the Indians did beat the best, taking two out of three at Progressive from the stupid yankees. I was lucky enough to attend the July 4 game, where Austin Kearns' three-run blast in the 7th game the Indians new life and a lead at 4-2, and Santana's home run to the porch in left put it away. Solid.

Catching up to Detroit
Though we didn't quite make it, there were some fun moments in Cleveland's chase of eventual division-winner Detroit, most notably a 10-3 pasting of the Tigers on a beautiful night in Cleveland at a game attended by much of the FCF team. The Indians pulled to within two games of the Tigers after that win - they drew to within 1.5 a week later and that was the story of them. But on that August evening, there was pennant fever in the air.

Any time we didn't play against Texas

Santana walks off AGAIN
Just for good measure, the Indians made their 80th and final victory on the season a memorable one. Having already claimed a win over hapless Minnesota earlier in the day, and with Nick and I manning the Tribe Social Suite, Cleveland rallied form down five and put the Twins away on Santana's second walk-off homer of the season. Oh yeah, also we had free tickets in a suite and it was Star Wars Night. Check out the photos below if you're interested in seeing me rocking on the field and/or Michael Cuddyer (#5) inexplicably and kind of awesomely being the only Twin to stick around for the fireworks.

Definitely no shortage of fireworks from the always-exciting 2011 Tribe. Hopefully we can populate the 2012 record book with as much fun, and hopefully I don't write this particular post until mid-November.

1 comment:

Figgs said...

Santana's walk-off slam was probably the play of the year, but I'd have to say most memorable for me was LaPorta's walk-off on Tribe Weekend. It was an awful first 17 innings of baseball up until that moment, and that made up for all of it. Here's to some more moments like it in '12, along with a pennant. GO TRIBE!