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Did The Tribe Win Last Night? | December 6, 2016

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Cleveland Indians’ Memorable All-Star Game Position Player Performances

Cleveland Indians’ Memorable All-Star Game Position Player Performances

| On 12, Jul 2016

The Midsummer Classic is upon us and the first place Cleveland Indians have three representatives in the annual Major League Baseball All-Star Game.

This season, Francisco Lindor, Danny Salazar, and Corey Kluber represent the Tribe on the American League squad. The two Tribe players who will take the field (Salazar is out with a sore elbow) may be highly motivated to excel in the exhibition game due to the Indians current spot at the top of the American League Central Division standings.

The winner Tuesday night will claim home field advantage for the World Series, a final destination far more in the sights of the Indians this season than in recent memory.

Tribe position players have had a long and successful history in the All-Star Game, dating all the way back to the first official contest between the leagues at Comiskey Park in Chicago in 1933. That year, outfielder Earl Averill was one of three Indians on the team (the only position player) and was the only one of the trio to make it into the game. When he did, he made his mark as a pinch-hitter in the sixth inning, delivering an RBI single to score shortstop Joe Cronin with the fourth and final AL run in a 4-2 victory.

Averill made five more All-Star trips throughout his career, all consecutively. Bob Feller would eventually pass Averill’s grand total, but not in straight years.

On Tuesday night, Lindor and Kluber will get a chance to take the stage at Petco Park in San Diego. Neither Lindor nor Kluber will start, but Lindor is expected to get a significant look at shortstop while AL manager Ned Yost has indicated that Kluber will be the second pitcher used in the game.

Lindor, 22, will have the opportunity to add his name to the long list of greats before him, both in Indians lore as well as those to man the shortstop position in the game while representing Cleveland. A small collection of former Tribe stars made their claims to fame roaming that spot, including Lou Boudreau, Omar Vizquel, and Asdrubal Cabrera.

Lindor’s selection makes it six straight seasons for the Indians with a position player selected for the Midsummer Classic.

Here are some other memorable All-Star Game performances from Cleveland Indians position players.

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Earl Averill (1934)

While teammate Mel Harder helped maintain the lead and the win in the 1934 All-Star Game, outfielder Averill was helping the American League claim the lead in his second straight All-Star Game.

Averill came on as a pinch-hitter for pitcher Lefty Gomez with a runner on first and two outs, down four runs in the top of the fourth. Averill tripled to right to score the AL’s second run, but would remain stranded at third.

One inning later, Averill was back at it again with another big hit. The AL had tied the score and loaded the bases after five of the first six batters in the inning reached base. Averill doubled to right field to score Jimmie Foxx and Al Simmons to give the AL a 6-4 advantage. He scored two batters later on a single by pitcher Red Ruffing to push the lead to 8-4. The AL would win, 9-7, and Averill was 2-for-4 with three runs batted in.

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Al Rosen (1954)

The All-Star Game returned to Cleveland in 1954 for the second time and the nearly 70,000 fans in attendance got to watch an offensive display, largely put on by members of the Indians organization.

An AL team full of Indians past, present, and future helped put eleven runs on the board in an 11-9 win. Rosen, who played both corners of the infield during the game, led the way with a pair of home runs while driving in five. Three Indians combined to supply eight runs for the AL in the game, as Larry Doby hit a solo shot in the eighth and Bobby Avila had three hits and two RBI in the contest.

It was one of many times the Indians were able to flex their muscles for fans of Major League Baseball, that is until their collapse in the World Series against the New York Giants despite winning 111 games over the course of the season.

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Sandy Alomar Jr. (1997)

The All-Star Game returned to Cleveland for the fifth time in 1997 and it was a hometown hero who would make the difference and win the only All-Star Most Valuable Player Award in franchise history in quite likely the most memorable Indians All-Star effort of all time.

Alomar made the All-Star team for the fifth time in his Indians career in 1997 and had enjoyed an improbable first half of the season, hitting .375 for the season while riding a 30-game hitting streak during which he was hitting .422.

He played the game with a heavy heart, having lost his grandmother just four days prior. He took over behind the plate in the top of the sixth, replacing Ivan Rodriguez. He stepped to the plate for the first time in the bottom of the seventh, with a runner on first against San Francisco lefty Shawn Estes. In a 2-2 count, Alomar was able to sit back on an 82 MPH hanger and drove the pitch into the bleachers in left to give the AL a 3-1 lead. Mariano Rivera, who would have an infamous meeting with Alomar as opponents later in the season, locked down the save in the ninth to give the AL the 3-1 win.

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Omar Vizquel (2002)

Much better known for his defensive displays, Vizquel came through in the clutch with his bat for the AL late in 2002’s All-Star Game.

Vizquel came into the game out of position as a defensive replacement in the bottom of the fifth for second baseman Alfonso Soriano. Vizquel had played just one inning of one game at second base in his Major League career, back in 1991.

In his first at bat in the seventh with Johnny Damon on first base after a single and a stolen base, Vizquel lined out to right, but Damon was able to move up on the play and would score on a Garret Anderson groundout to cut the AL deficit to 5-3.

His next contribution was even bigger – with one on and one out in the top of the eighth, Vizquel tripled off of reliever Robb Nen to score Robert Fick to tie the game at seven.

The exhibition would be called after eleven innings in a 7-7 tie, but it could not have happened if not for Vizquel’s timely hitting.

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Victor Martinez (2007)

Martinez stepped to the plate in the top of the eighth inning at AT&T Park in San Francisco with the AL leading by a 3-2 edge.

With Mike Lowell sitting on first base and two down, the switch-hitting Martinez, pinch-hitting for pitcher Johan Santana, lined a 2-0 pitch from dangerous left-hander Billy Wagner into the left field bullpen to pad the AL lead at 5-2.

The hit turned out to be a significant piece of insurance for the AL team. Martinez’s run, scored on his first career All-Star Game home run, would turn out to be the deciding run in the contest, as the NL’s two runs in the ninth fell just short and the AL claimed a 5-4 win.

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Honorable mentions:
L. Boudreau (1942): leadoff homer in 4-1 AL win was first by an Indians player in All-Star history
B. Avila (1954): went 3-for-3 with a run scored and two RBI in front of hometown crowd
L. Doby (1954): hit a solo homer in the eighth at Cleveland Stadium
Kenny Lofton (1994): two-run single in seventh gave AL the lead
Carlos Baerga (1995): went 3-for-3 with two singles, a double, and one run scored.

Photo: Matt Detrich/Akron Beacon Journal