The Top 20 Moments in Jacobs Field History: Indians Clinch First Division In 41 Years

The 2014 season will mark 20 years of baseball at Progressive (ie Jacobs) Field. It’s been a relatively short history (although with the stadium building boom in the late 1990s and early 2000s, Progressive Field is the 13th oldest facility in the majors). Did the Tribe Win Last Night has compiled a list of the 20 most memorable moments in the field’s history. We’ll count them down for 20 consecutive Saturdays.

3. The Clincher – Sept. 8, 1995

In 1994, the Indians were leading for the wild card and were within striking distance of the American League Central Division when a strike wiped out the season.

The following year, they would not be denied. The Tribe roared out of the gates and blew past everyone else in the division. By Sept. 8, the team’s 123rd game, the Indians had a 22.5-game lead over the second-place Royals. The sellout streak at Jacobs Field had begun, and it was a packed house. It was also Cal Ripken’s 2,132nd consecutive game. He had broken Lou Gehrig’s record, previously thought of as insurmountable, two nights earlier at Camden Yards. Orel Hershiser faced off against Kevin Brown.

In the bottom of the third inning, with one out, Brown hit Sandy Alomar with a pitch. Alomar moved to third on a single by Kenny Lofton. Omar Vizquel hit a sacrifice fly to center field, scoring Alomar. Carlos Baerga then singled, putting runners at the corners, and Albert Belle walked to load the bases. Eddie Murray singled to score Lofton and Baerga, staking Hershiser to a 3-0 lead.

In the fourth, Bobby Bonilla hit into a double play for Baltimore, scoring Curtis Goodwin, and in the seventh, Jeff Huson doubled off Hershiser to score Harold Baines, cutting the lead to 3-2.

And in the top of the ninth, the bullpen door swung open and out came Jose Mesa to close the game. He got Ripken to ground out to Vizquel. Baines flied out to Wayne Kirby in right field, and Chris Hoiles drew a walk, and was lifted for pinch-runner Jeffrey Hammonds.

Up stepped Huson, with the tying run at first. On the second pitch he saw from Mesa, he hit a pop foul to third base. Thome reached up and snagged the ball. The Indians won, and clinched their first division title ever – and their first trip to the postseason since Dwight D. Eisenhower was president.

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