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 May 7, 1995.
The 39,431 fans at Jacobs Field certainly got their money’s worth Sunday afternoon…and Sunday evening…and Sunday night. It was nearly dark by the time Kenny Lofton had singled home Manny Ramirez for the winning run at 7:43 PM, but the day that was long for everyone must have seemed even longer for the Minnesota Twins (4-7) as they fell to the Tribe (6-4) by a score of 10-9.
The game that officially started at 1:07 lasted six hours and 36 minutes, setting the mark as the longest game in both franchise’s histories. The previous Cleveland record of 6:30 was set on Opening Day against Boston in 1993, while Minnesota’s prior record of 6:17 was set in Minneapolis against the Tribe in August of that same season. An outrageous 47 players suited up and played for the two teams on Sunday, including 17 pitchers. The teams combined for 44 hits and 581 pitches during the 17-inning affair.
The Indians used a combination of explosive offense as well as a number of outstanding defensive plays to outlast the Twins in the marathon affair. Hours after Tribe starter Dennis Martinez (2-0, 2.60) had left the game, first baseman Paul Sorrento robbed a base hit and third baseman Jim Thome used an excellent diving stop and glove tag of the bag to save reliever Jose Mesa in the 13th. Thome and second baseman Carlos Baerga also turned a nifty double play that saved the day’s victor, Jim Poole (1-1, 1.17), in the 16th. Not to be outdone, both Omar Vizquel and Baerga fired potential go-ahead runs out at the plate in the 12th and 16th innings and backup catcher Jesse Levis fired a seed on a dropped third strike to retire a would-be-baserunner in the 11th.
The big bats came courtesy of Lofton, Albert Belle and Eddie Murray who had four hits apiece—two of Murray’s being of the homerun variety. The four knocks and two bombs gave Murray 2,949 and 462 for his career, passing Hall of Famer Wee Willie Keeler for 22nd place on the all-time hits list and putting him just one homerun shy of teammate Dave Winfield for 19th place on the homer list. Baerga and Manny Ramirez also added three hits apiece, with one of Ramirez’s leaving the yard.
The Tribe hammered Twins starter Kevin Tapani (0-1, 5.78) to the tune of six runs in his 2.2 innings of work. Murray got the scoring started with one of his five RBI on the day with a first inning single and then the offense exploded for a five-spot in the third after Minnesota had taken a 2-1 lead in the third. Baerga tied the game at 2-2 when he drove home Vizquel, who had reached on an error. After that, a Belle double was followed by homeruns from Murray and Ramirez that sent Tapani to the showers. The 6-2 lead seemed large at the time, but proved to be not nearly big enough as Martinez and eventually reliever Jason Grimsley struggled to get outs.
Martinez allowed the Twins third run in the fourth and then the offense tacked on two more insurance runs in the bottom of the sixth. Grimsley, in his third inning of work, was then mashed for five runs in the top of the seventh—aided by a Kirby Puckett homerun and a Matt Walbeck double. With the score tied 8-8, rookie Marty Cordova gave the Twins their first lead of the day in the top of the eighth with a solo homerun off of Eric Plunk, but Murray answered in the bottom half with his second blast of the day to tie the score at 9-9. From there, the offensive explosion stopped and the scoreboard went silent for several hours.
The two teams continued to reach base, but also squandered several opportunities. The Twins and Tribe stranded 20 of the total 39 runners left on base from the ninth inning through the end of the game, with the Twins loading the bases in the 13th and the Tribe getting the potential winning run to third in the 15th. It wasn’t until the bottom of the 17th that another runner finally crossed the dish.
Ramirez led off the bottom of the 17th inning with a walk off of Mark Guthrie (1-1, 1.08), the Twins ninth pitcher of the day. After Alvaro Espinoza struck out swinging, Ramirez stole second and advanced to third on a cued roller that a hustling Levis beat out for an infield single. Moments later, Lofton laced Guthrie’s first pitch up the middle to bring an end to the marathon game.
The tired Indians will need to regroup quickly as the Kansas City Royals (6-4) come to Jacobs Field to open a three game series Monday night at 7:05. The Royals took four of five games against the Indians last season and were one of just three visiting teams to post a winning record in Jacobs Field’s inaugural season. Mark Clark (1-0, 17.05) will get the start for the Indians on Monday and will be opposed by Royals ace Kevin Appier (3-0, 0.46). The Tribe will then get Thursday off before heading to Baltimore to open up a nine game road trip against the Orioles on Friday. All three games against Kansas City can be seen on SportsChannel or heard on WKNR-AM/1220.
Photo: Rick Stewart/Getty Images