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 October 1, 1995.
Any teacher who was grading the 1995 baseball season would have to agree on the score…the Indians get a perfect 100.
The Tribe finished their strike-shortened, regular season campaign with an amazing 100-44 record as they destroyed the second place Kansas City Royals by a score of 17-7 on Sunday afternoon at Jacobs Field. The Tribe finished a record 30 games ahead of the Royals and will appear in their first postseason in 41 years starting this week.
In a season that featured 48 come-from-behind wins, 27 victories in their final at bat and nine walk-off homeruns, the drama was squashed early in the team’s final regular season contest. The Indians posted six runs in the bottom of the first inning and then scored five more in the bottom of the second, cruising to victory. Before all of the sellout crowd had settled into their seats, the AL Central Champions had an easy 11-0 lead.
The Tribe recorded six singles, three walks and two Kenny Lofton stolen bases to put the game away in the first inning off of KC starter Tom Gordon. The two steals gave Lofton 54 for the season and clinched his fourth straight AL stolen base crown. Four more singles, another walk and an error from right fielder John Nunnally then gave the Tribe their five spot in the second. Gordon was pulled after three straight singles and a walk to Manny Ramirez led off the second inning.
Handed the huge lead, Charles Nagy (16-6, 4.66) allowed four runs in the top of the third, but was given more than enough offense to secure his 16th victory after five innings of work. The 16 wins are the most for Nagy since his breakout 1992 season when he went 17-10.
The remainder of the scoring was highlighted by two fifth inning homeruns from Billy Ripken and Paul Sorrento. Also included was an RBI triple from Lofton and an RBI single from rookie Brian Giles.
In relief of Nagy, Paul Assenmacher allowed two runs in one inning of work and Jim Poole pitched a scoreless ninth. In between the two lefties, fourth-starter Ken Hill gave up a run in two relief innings as well. Hill was brought in just to get some work, as the trade deadline acquisition will likely not pitch again until at least Game Four of the ALDS, if not later.
The Indians won their final five ballgames and nine of their last 12 to reach the 100-win plateau. The 100 wins mark just the second time in franchise history the team has reached that number, the first coming in 1954 when they won an AL record 111. After clinching the Central Division on September 8, the Indians needed something to play for over the last three weeks of the season.
“When you clinch the division so early, you sit around thinking, ‘Now what do we do?” Lofton said. “’Do you play for individual numbers? We’ve already clinched. What do we do?’ It was kind of interesting.”
The 41,819 fans gave fitting tributes to two of baseball’s most talented players, as they chanted ‘MVP! MVP!’ to Albert Belle in each of his two at bats before he was replaced by Jeromy Burnitz in the top of the sixth inning. Belle, who reached the 50 homerun plateau on Saturday, is the heavy favorite to take home the AL MVP Award after becoming the first player in baseball history with 50 homeruns and 50 doubles. In addition to cheering for Belle, the crowd also gave a nice standing ovation to the 44-year old Dave Winfield, a sure-fire Hall of Famer, as he grounded out in what might be his final at bat of his career. Manager Mike Hargrove announced on Saturday that Winfield would not be on the Indians postseason roster after struggles and injuries plagued his season.
The Indians will take a well-deserved rest on Monday and then will host their first postseason game since October 2, 1954, at Jacobs Field on Tuesday. The Tribe will face the American League East Champion Boston Red Sox (86-58), who paced their division by seven games over the Wild Card winning New York Yankees. The Yanks, meanwhile, will face the AL West Champion in the other Division Series matchup. The AL West Champ will be decided Monday night in a one-game playoff between the red-hot Seattle Mariners and the free-falling California Angels. The Indians will throw 1995 All-Star pitcher Dennis Martinez (12-5, 3.08) against Boston in Game One, who will counter with three-time Cy Young Award Winner and 1986 AL MVP Roger Clemens (10-5, 4.18). The game is scheduled to start at 8:07 pm and can be seen nationally on NBC or heard locally on WKNR-AM/1220 on the Cleveland Indians Radio Network.
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