1995 Game Recap: Sorrento’s Clout Caps Comeback—Indians 9, Blue Jays 8
Steve Eby | On 04, Jun 2015
Throughout the 2015 season, Did the Tribe Win Last Night will take a look back at the 1995 Cleveland Indians for the 20th anniversary of their fourth pennant winning season. Included will be historic game recaps, headlining stories and a ranking of the team’s most influential players that truly made 1995 The Greatest Summer Ever. Today looks back June 4, 1995.
The Jacobs Field Magic of 1994 has officially returned for 1995.
The Indians (24-10) took on one of baseball’s best pitchers, fell behind 8-0 in the second inning and still managed to walk away with the biggest comeback win of the season on a walk-off homerun by Paul Sorrento. The Tribe used an outstanding relief appearance by rookie Chad Ogea and their mighty offense battled all the way back to defeat the still two-time reigning World Series champion Toronto Blue Jays by a score of 9-8 on Sunday afternoon.
The Indians had 10 walk-off wins in their strike-shortened Inaugural Season last year, five of which came via the walk-off homerun. Sunday’s blast was the first for the Tribe since last June 28, when Albert Belle hit one against Baltimore and it was the second walk-off of Sorrento’s career, the first coming May 27 last season against Oakland’s John Briscoe. It was also the second walk-off in as many years against the Blue Jays, as Jim Thome hit one almost exactly one year ago against Toronto on June 15. The magic came back for a 1995 encore on Sunday afternoon, as the Tribe registered their first walk-off blast of the season in the most dramatic and unlikely fashion.
Things started out as ugly as can be for Tribe starter Jason Grimsley (0-0, 7.23, 1 save), who was horrendous in his second start of the season. Grimsley walked the first three batters of the game to load the bases with nobody out before back-to-back singles from former Indian Joe Carter and John Olerud made the score 3-0. A sacrifice bunt from Roberto Alomar was followed by a three run homerun from Shawn Green and the rout seemed to be on. After walking Ed Sprague immediately afterwards, Grimsley was pulled from the ballgame after just one-third of an inning. Sprague eventually scored after a Lance Parrish single and a sacrifice fly from Devon White pushed the Blue Jays’ lead to 7-0.
To make matters worse for the Tribe, the opposing pitcher for the day was one of the best in baseball—last season’s Cy Young Award winner David Cone (4-3, 3.75). Cone carved up the Indians lineup for the first two innings as the Jays added their eighth run on White’s second sac fly of the day in the top of the third.
“With a guy like David Cone on the mound you think that about 95% of the time he’s going to take over the game and finish it,” Sorrento said. “I think that goes back to the type of guys we (have) on (this) team.”
“All I can remember is the first three innings was like, ‘Oh my goodness, what in the world?” newly acquired Tribe catcher Scooter Tucker added.
From that point on, however, the explosive Tribe offense just chipped away.
The Indians got their first run in the bottom of the third, when Wayne Kirby had doubled to lead off the inning and was brought home on a two-out Omar Vizquel single. They added two more off of an uncharacteristically wild Cone in the fourth when Lofton plated both Thome and Sorrento with a single and then they drew the score to 8-5 with Eddie Murray’s seventh homerun in the fifth. An RBI single from Belle in the sixth drove the laboring Cone from the ballgame with the score sitting at a manageable 8-6.
“It was a big comeback,” Manager Mike Hargrove said. “David Cone (is) one of the best pitchers in baseball.”
In the meantime, Ogea was cutting through the Toronto hitters like butter after entering the ballgame in relief of Grimsley. Ogea worked 6.2 innings out of the bullpen and allowed just four hits and one run to save any chance of victory for the Tribe.
Still nursing an 8-6 lead, Blue Jay reliever Tony Castillo held the Indians in check into the ninth inning. With one out in the bottom half, however, Castillo was pulled from the game in favor of Darren Hall (0-1, 6.43) and things got ugly from there for Toronto.
Belle got the late rally started with an infield single to the second baseman, Alomar. The play was initially ruled an error, but was then changed due to a “bad hop”. The change in scoring keeps the Gold Glover Alomar’s streak of 80 consecutive games without an error intact. Next, Murray grounded a single into right, moving Belle to third to set the table for the comeback. After that, Thome brought home Belle on a fielder’s choice to make the score 8-7 and it brought Sorrento to the plate.
“The wind was blowing in. I got a good pitch and I just killed it,” Sorrento added. “I thought I may have celebrated too early because it barely went out—it was only like the first or second row. The Jake is a pretty good hitting yard so if you get it good you know it’s probably gone. I just remember thinking, ‘Please go out, because I’m going to look like an idiot if it doesn’t.’ It ended up just capping off a great team win. We never gave up.”
The victory for the game went to reliever Julian Tavarez (3-0, 1.19), who worked a scoreless eighth and ninth, but it was Ogea who had stopped the bleeding and then kept the Tribe in the ballgame. With Grimsley getting hammered and the rookie Ogea dominating, it’s possible that the rookie may have thrown his hat into the ring as a possible fifth starter for the short and/or long term. Cleveland has been without a regular fifth-man since sending Mark Clark back to the minors last month.
The Indians will continue their homestand on Monday when the Detroit Tigers (16-20) come in for a three game series before the Tribe heads to Milwaukee on Thursday. Orel Hershiser (4-1, 3.74) will get the ball for Cleveland and will oppose Sean Bergman (1-3, 4.95) of the Tigers. The game can be seen on WUAB-43 or can be heard on WKNR-AM/1220.
Photo: Pacific Baseball Cards