This is a series of Game Recaps from past Indians contests, written from the perspective of one who had just witnessed the game. Notes in italics indicate present (as in 2012) perspective.
It's a couple of hours since the game has ended, and I'm still laughing. Not much has gone right this season, and the Indians aren't even good enough to have a June swoon (already 11 games out), so tonight's odd win was just what was needed.
But before going into the hilarity, let's take care of the usual game stuff as quickly as possible.
This was not one of Jose Mesa's better starts. After throwing a complete game in Kansas City and eight shutout innings in Baltimore, this is Jose's second straight mediocre start. The Indians have much bigger problems in the rotation, but it's a bit concerning to see one of the bright spots in the rotation show signs of slowing down. Jose gave up two first inning home runs to the Rangers, the first coming off the bat of LGFT Julio Franco, the second off of Rafael Palmeiro. I still cringe when seeing Julio at bat, thinking mostly that horrible deal five years ago.
Left-handed flamethrower Kenny Rogers was pitching, so Mike Hargrove sat several of his starters. Kenny Lofton, Jeff Treadway, Paul Sorrento, and Wayne Kirby were all on the bench just like yesterday, when southpaw Charlie Liebrandt was on the mound. I suppose Hargrove was playing percentages, but it was strange that all five sat two days in a row.
So the Indians were down 3-0 after the first inning, but they'd come back. In the bottom of the third, Carlos Baerga drove home the first Tribe run of the game on a ground out, but the heavy lifting in the inning had been done by Thomas Howard's single and Felix Fermin's double.
OK, now for the hilarity. In the bottom of the fourth, Carlos Martinez led off the inning, and hit a deep but playable ball to right-center field. Right fielder Jose Canseco went over to make a play on the ball, and this happened:
I've never seen anything like it, and for it to happen to that lunkhead Canseco makes it even more hilarious. Canseco must have lost the ball in the lights, and it just happened to bounce off his noggin and straight over the Cleveland Stadium fence. Even though everyone in the stadium, including Canseco, laughed about it, Rogers apparently let it get to him, as he then hit Reggie Jefferson, and would give up the lead later in the inning on Felix Fermin's two-run single. The Indians would chase Rogers in the sixth, with Fermin yet again doing much of the damage. Felix drove home Alvaro Espinoza on a single up the middle. Kevin Kennedy let Rogers face Carlos Baerga, and that move backfired, as Carlos tripled down the left field line. Then Albert Belle doubled off reliever Jeff Bronkey to put the game away, or so it appeared.
Mark Clark came in for Mesa to start the sixth, and pitched a 1-2-3 inning, but ran into trouble in the seventh. He gave up three singles and a run, and was pulled in favor of Derek Lilliquist. got out of the inning, and had to be relieved himself after giving up a Butch Davis (no, not that Butch Davis) home run. Eric Plunk was called upon to get out of the inning, and did so, thanks partly to Jose Canseco getting thrown out trying to steal second.
The Rangers would pulled to within a run in the ninth, but Plunk retired Doug Dascenzo to notch the save. But the story of the game was the head-aided home run. Long after we forget about Carlos Martinez or even Jose Canseco, that play will continue to live on in blooper reels.
Postscript: The Lake County Captains recreated the event two years ago by holding a unique contest between fans.