Giambi Walkoff Bomb Keeps Tribe Leaders in Wild Card Race; Indians 5, White Sox 4
Terry Evitts | On 24, Sep 2013
Whether the season ends in five games or five weeks, tonight’s game will be one for the season highlight reel.
It likely goes on Jason Giambi’s personal, career highlight reel, too.
The Tribe’s dash for the playoffs continued Tuesday, as they beat the lowly Chicago White Sox, 5-4 in dramatic fashion. Giambi’s two-out, pinch-hit home run in the bottom of the ninth gave the Indians a come from behind victory after Chris Perez nearly blew the game in the top half of the ninth. The Indians remain one game ahead of the Texas Rangers for the last wild card berth and one behind Tampa Bay for the first spot.
The Tribe scored first in the bottom of the second, when Ryan Raburn was hit by a pitch, and then was at second as Astrubal Cabrera reached first on a fielder’s choice. Yan Gomes singled to left, moving Cabrera to second. Michael Brantley’s bloop single to center scored Cabrera and the Indians took a 1-0 lead.
The White Sox tied the game in the top of the fourth inning when Jimenez walked third baseman Connor Gillaspie. He advanced to third on a single by Paul Konerko and Gillaspie scored on sacrifice fly by Avisail Garcia.
The score remained tied at 1-1 until the top of the seventh, when Chicago second baseman Gordon Beckham singled to center. He moved to second as Jimenez walked catcher Josh Phegley. Right-hander Cody Allen replaced Jimenez and gave up one out single to Alejandro De Aza that scored Beckham giving the White Sox a 2-1
The Tribe quickly came back in the bottom of the seventh inning when Michael Brantley hit Santiago’s first pitch for a solo home run to right field to tie the score at two. Mike Aviles smacked a single to left, then advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Michael Bourn. White Sox manager Robin Ventura then called on right-hander Nate Jones. Nick Swisher sacrificed Aviles to third, and Jason Kipnis singled to left center to score Aviles, and the Tribe took a 3-2 lead.
Indians manager Terry Francona went to his bullpen again in the top of the eighth inning for right-hander Joe Smith. He pitched a scoreless frame. Cleveland did not score in the bottom of the eighth, entering the ninth with a 3-2 lead.
What happened was one of the most dramatic innings of the 2013 season. Francona called on the closer Chris Perez to finish off the White Sox and gain the save. It was not to be.
Perez gave up solo home runs to Dayan Vicievdo and De Aza, both to right field, giving the White Sox a 4-3 lead. After walking first baseman Alexei Ramirez, the boo birds came out in full force as manager Terry Francona yanked Perez and replaced him with lefty Marc Rzepczynski, who hit Gillaspie. Right-hander Bryan Shaw came on to record the third out. It was Perez’s fifth blown save of the year.
As the bottom of the ninth began, all energy seemed to have left the crowd, as White Sox closer Addison Reed entered the game. Michael Brantley single to first on a seemingly routing grounder that hit the lip of the grass and scooted into right field. He quickly stole second. Francona then sent up the gray beard of the team, Jason
Giambi to pinch-hit for Matt Carson. Carson replaced Michael Bourn in the top of the ninth after Bourn jammed his wrist. Giambi smacked Reed’s pitch over the right field wall for a no-doubt-about-it, two-run homer, giving the Indians a dramatic, come from behind 5-4 win.
For the veteran Giambi, it was his third pinch hit home run for the Indians, tying Ron Kittle’s 1988 record. It was also his second walk-off, pinch-hit home run of the 2013 season.
Cleveland will look to keep their place in the wild card race on Wednesday when Danny Salazar (1-3, 3.09) will take the mound for the Tribe. Chicago will counter with Dylan Axelrod (4-10, 5.72). The Tribe continues to cling to a wild card spot with just five games remaining.
Photo: Tony Dejak/AP Photo