A pinch-hit, two-out, two-run home run in the 13th inning by Frank Robinson gives the Indians a 5-4 walk-off win over the Chicago White Sox at Cleveland Stadium on Bill Veeck Night.
Robinson, the player-manager of the Tribe playing in his third season with the club, inserted himself into the lineup with the Indians trailing 4-3 with two outs in the bottom of the 13th. White Sox pitcher Terry Forster was beginning his second inning of relief and gave up a leadoff single to Larvell Blanks to start the frame. A sacrifice bunt from Doug Howard advanced Blanks to second and a groundout to second by George Hendrick put the tying run 90 feet away for Orlando Gonzalez, who had singled in his only at bat of the game pinch-hitting for pitcher/pinch-runner Rick Waits in the eleventh. Robinson instead grabbed a bat himself and won it with the two-run shot.
“I wasn’t thinking home run when I went to the plate,” Robinson was quoted in the following day’s The Plain Dealer. “All I really wanted to do was get a good pitch and hit the ball hard somewhere.
“All I was really thinking about was tying the score.”
The homer for Robinson, who was dealing with a sore left shoulder, was his first of the season and the 584th of his career. He would hit just two more homers with Cleveland in his final big league season, appearing in 36 games while batting .224.
Cleveland took an early 2-0 lead in the first inning, getting a pair of two-out RBI singles from Hendrick and Buddy Bell. The Sox got an unearned run in the top of the second on an error by the pitcher, Jackie Brown. A Brian Downing homer in the seventh briefly tied the game before Bell gave Cleveland a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the frame. Buddy Bradford hit a leadoff homer off of Brown to start the ninth, tying the game at three. Chicago had taken its first lead of the night in the top of the 13th on a two-out RBI-single from Bill Stein.
The Indians improved to 24-27 with the win and moved into second place, but were seven games in back in the American League East. The third place Chicago White Sox fell to 27-23 and were five and a half in back in the AL West.
Also on this date in Tribe history:
1948 – In his 197th plate appearance of the season, Lou Boudreau strikes out during his fifth of six at bats in a 10-8 win by the Indians over the New York Yankees. It marked the first strikeout of the season for the eventual Most Valuable Player, who was set down by reliever Tommy Byrne in the top of the seventh.
2010 – Carlos Santana goes 0-for-3 in his Major League debut as the Indians defeat the Washington Nationals, 7-2. He would reach base on a fourth inning walk. He made up for the hitless effort the next day, getting a double and a homer.