Today in Tribe History: May 11, 1971

1971– Indians pitcher Steve Dunning hits his first Major League home run, a second inning grand slam, but his efforts on the mound will not match his success at the plate. Despite blowing a 5-0 lead, Cleveland still wins over the Oakland Athletics by a 7-5 final.

Dunning stepped in for his first at bat of the game in the second inning already staked to a 1-0 lead after the Indians loaded the bases and Eddie Leon knocked in Ray Fosse with a single. After Jack Heidemann flied out to center, Dunning cleared the bases, scoring Ken Harrelson, Roy Foster, and Leon. Oakland pitcher Diego Segui lasted just one more batter before leaving the game.

The five run lead would not last for Dunning, as a bases loaded walk to Rick Monday scored a run in the third. Three straight singles in the fifth scored another run and Monday’s three-run home run tied the game at five and ended the day for Dunning. Cleveland responded with an RBI-double from Foster off of Oakland’s Rollie Fingers, who would also allow another run on an RBI-single by Ted Uhlaender the next inning.

Dunning’s slam would be the last hit by an American League pitcher until 2008 (Felix Hernandez, Seattle versus New York Mets), thanks to the advent of the designated hitter.

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