In a season of frustration and injury, Victor Martinez finally got his moment. Too bad it took until September 16th to do so. Stepping to the plate in the bottom of the 11th inning, Vic the Stick sent the 2,000 0r so fans still remaining at 11:30 home happy, with a three-run, walk-off blast to center off of Twins closer Joe Nathan. It was his second homer of the season and since his return from a three-month stint on the DL.
Amazingly, this was the first game-ending Home Run Nathan has allowed in an astounding 428 appearances (thanks to the PD’s Paul Hoynes for that factoid). Nathan also has owned the Indians for years. He came into the game lifetime against the Tribe 3-0 with 28 saves in 29 chances. As Victor rounded third and headed towards home, he was grinning like a Pacman Jones at a strip club. He slid into his awaiting teammates who piled on him in celebration. Said Martinez after the game “I felt just like a little kid running the bases.”
The Vic crush job put the ending on what was one of the more wild games of the year. The Tribe jumped out 8-1 in the first three innings and chased starter Francisco Liriano, thanks to a three-run slice from Ryan Garko and a solo shot from Asdrubal Cabrera in the second, followed by four more runs in the third capped by an Andy Marte RBI single. You know its not your night when Marte is beating you.
It seemed all good and even with The Zack Attack on the mound, an 8-1 lead seemed safe. That is why the play more than three innings and that is why Zack Jackson is nothing more than a spot starter/long man at best. Before you knew it, it was 8-5 after five. The Attack clearly had nothing left, yet Eric Wedge sent him back out for the sixth. Maybe it was because he was still evaluating the kid, maybe it was that he had no faith in his bullpen. Either way, The Attack gave up back to back singles to start the sixth before giving way to a plethora of Tribe relievers who came from the bullpen with gas cans in tow.
Juan Rincon gave up a two-run single to bring it to 8-7. In the 7th, Brendan Donnelly loaded the bases with one out and was bailed out as Carlos Gomez’s line shot went right at Marte who stepped on third to end the inning. Rafael “The Realtor” Betancourt looked about as good as a salad does to Artie Lange in the 8th. He walked four and gave up two runs before giving way to Moo-Heeks (Eddie Mujica). Raffy left after throwing 33 pitches (painstakingly slow in his delivery), only 13 of which were strikes.
That is when the fireworks began.
Grady Sizemore hit a one out, solo bomb off of the right field foul poll that deflated Twins reliever Everyday Eddie Guardado in the eighth. Then I sat and witnessed one no-name reliever after another on both sides get key outs. Ever heard of Jose Mijares before? Me neither. He pitched a scoreless 10th for Minnesota. Thomas “Nasty” countered with a two K top of the 11th. He was rewarded with the W thanks to the Victor blast.
What a strange night down at the Jake (I still refuse to call it Progressive Field). Interestingly, it was another up and down night for me and my Tigers/Tribe Flemings bet. At 10:45 PM, the Tiger led the Rangers 4-2 heading into the ninth and the Tribe trailed 9-8 in the eighth. I was livid over an easy blown win. The next thing you know, Fernando Rodney was failing to get an out for the Kitties and the Rangers had come back for a 5-4 win and the Tribe ended the night a 12-9 ”victor.”
Now the Tribe is 3.5 games ahead of the Tigers in the race for steaks.
As a wise man once said “ohhhhh loveittttttttttttttt.”