Tribe Honors Legend And Walks Off With Win; Indians 6, Twins 5
Mike B. | On 24, Sep 2011
It was a night children emulate in their back yards from start to finish. Fans had the opportunity to honor a hero from a past generation, see one last great moment to an ending career and a magical home run as the Indians defeated the Minnesota Twins, 6-5 Friday evening.
Before the game, and a sell out crowd, the Indians honored Jim Thome for his 600 home runs and his career. Tom Hamilton, Mark Shapiro and Thome himself spoke to the crowd. Thome thanked each organization for giving him the chance to return to Cleveland and thanked the fans for welcoming him back. Shapiro made the biggest announcement however, that the Indians will unveil a statue of the slugger in centerfield, where the his longest home run in Progressive Field landed.
Once the game began, the magic continued this evening. Trailing 4-2 in the bottom of the third inning, Thome stepped to the plate and crushed a two run home run to centerfield, almost where his statue will reside and tying the game at four. The home run was career dinger, #604. Thome was 3-5 on the evening, with a double and check swing single to go with his homer. He was a triple shy of the cycle, but since he has only had two triples since 2004, Jim Thome couldn’t have it all on his evening.
Meanwhile Justin Masterson struggled through four and two-third innings, allowing four runs, three earned, five hits and six walks. Masterson threw 106 pitches before being replaced by Frank Herrmann. Masterson, who also looked tired and overused in his last start, was told he will not start the season finale on Wednesday and his season is over.
Matt LaPorta singled home Lonnie Chisenhall in the sixth inning to give the Indians a 5-4 lead. LaPorta, who may be fighting for a place in the Indians organization in 2012, had three hits on the evening.
The lead was short lived though, when Rafael Perez could not hold the lead in the top of the seventh. Rene Tosoni doubled home Luke Hughes and the game was again tied at five. Vinnie Pestano worked a scoreless eighth and Chris Perez was clean through the ninth, setting up the late inning heroics.
Carlos Santana, who had the night off for only the eighth time this season, pinch hit for Lou Marson and hit the first pitch of the inning deep into the right field stands, giving the Indians a 6-5 walkoff victory. While a walkoff home run is memorable, and usually the headline, it was Thome’s evening and a memory for generations remembering the mid-1990s and young fans today.
The Indians will continue to try and finish the season strong when they play their final day, night doubleheader of the season on Saturday. David Huff will battle with Brian Duensing in the afternoon game, while Mitch Talbot will face Scott Diamond in the nightcap.
Photo: Jason Miller/Getty Images