The staff at Let's Go Tribe looks back at the games that stand out as personal favorites from 2013, presented in chronological order and split into three posts (because 3,000 words is far too many for one!).
Since moving to the Pacific Northwest in 2008, something had always gotten in the way of my visiting Seattle when the Indians were in town. This year, as the only visit happened to coincide with my birthday, there was no way I was going to miss them this time around.
I procured tickets for my birthday, a July 23 night game, and the following day game. I had a blast at the night game, meeting up PortlandVinny and pdxtribefreak before and after the game. Sadly, the Tribe made a couple of boneheaded running mistakes, allowing the Mariners to win.
The day game on July 24 was a real fun one. I woke up a tad dehydrated (shocker!) and headed to the ballpark early. It was a crisp Wednesday morning. The street vendors were out and I tried one of the local sausages. It was pretty delicious, though obviously I was craving the Stadium Mustard.
Once in the park, I tried a couple more delicacies from the park's vendors while replenishing with some H2O. I took a full tour of the stadium, took a bunch of pictures and finally settled into my seat in the left field bleachers, near the foul line and right above the corner. pdxtribefreak showed up soon after and then the sun got almost unbearably hot. I actually had to go find some sunscreen.
The Indians broke out with 3 in the first on a Bourn single, a Swisher walk, a Kipnis sacrifice and a pair of doubles by Droobs and Carlos. The Carlos shot was a ground rule double that bounced just below me and pdxtribefreak before caroming into the bar down to our left. Santana liked our corner of the world as he hit another double down our line in the third to plate the fourth Indian.
Through the fourth, Scott Kazmir was dealing really well too. He hadn't given up a hit but did give up an unearned run on a walk and a bad throwing error by Droobs. Kazmir had four Ks and three perfect innings. In the top of the fifth, the game became out of reach when Bourn, of all people, lined a shot over the right center fence for a grand slam.
Kazmir faced the minimum in the fifth (albeit with a hit and double play), walked one in the sixth, had a perfect seventh, and would have had a perfect eighth except for a Mark Reynolds goof. Droobs homered in the sixth and Reynolds scored the last run on a bases loaded double play grounder in the ninth with Vinnie mopping up in the ninth. In eight innings, Kazmir threw 103 pitches, gave up one hit, two free passes and had seven strikeouts. After saying my goodbyes, I headed to the train station, a happy Tribe fan, witness to a 10-1 win.
I don't recall a lot of the details of the July 31 game against Chicago. What I do recall is the context: cautious optimism, electricity, and the timid feeling that this team might actually be for real.
My girlfriend Erin and I landed in Cleveland to visit my family on the 26th. We saw Ryan Raburn's walkoff against the Rangers that night at Progressive Field. We watched Jason Giambi's insane walkoff on the 29th from a bar just outside Cedar Point while downing a 120 oz. carafe of beer. The Indians came into that July 31st contest on a 6-game winning streak. They won 2 more in a row after that, mounting one of the most exciting stretches of the 2013 season.
We hadn't planned to go to the game that Wednesday, having tired ourselves out that afternoon at the zoo, but a buddy of mine had free tickets and we couldn't pass them up. After just the right amount of lubrication at Great Lakes, we took the Fatty Wagon over to Progressive, getting revved up on the way by our driver/cheerleader. We were stoked, and we made the gates just in time to grab some soft serve and get to our seats as the anthem was playing.
The Tribe got off to a good start, taking a 3-0 lead in the 5th riding Corey Kluber's nice performance. When the Sox tied it in the 6th, I was frustrated, and decided it was time to take a walk. I showed Erin Heritage Park, giving my frenzied spiel about each plaque, though I never saw most of those guys play. She indulged me respectfully while my buddy looked on with a smirk, having heard this all before. I didn't care. I love baseball, I love Cleveland, and I love spreading that love.
The walk - and a soft pretzel - got us through the next few deadlocked inning until the Sox took the lead in the top of the 9th. By then, we were tired. The crowd was dispirited, and we seemed resigned that this would be the end of a nice little streak. But Michael Brantley led off the bottom half with a liner past Alex Rios, who had been taunting mercilessly by the RF crowd that night. Erin got a particular kick out of Alex's misfortune. The inning was sort of a letdown in that we only managed to push through two runs on sac flies rather than winning, but we were buzzing as we headed into the 10th.
Chris Perez, as always, kept things interesting by hitting Adam Dunn with two outs, but came back to K Paul Konerko to end the Sox' 10th. Carlos Santana was up first for the Tribe. Erin seemed worried. I assured her of two things:
- Carlos Santana was born for this
- We got this
The ball landed about six rows in front of us. Euphoria. I bragged about my prediction, which made me about 1 for 178 in all-time "this guy's gonna hit a homer" predictions. We didn't stay for the fireworks, but we felt like we got our money's worth. This was the peak of 2013 for me.