It was a night to remember for the Memorial Day crowd that had gathered on Monday night because they never thought that the Cleveland Indians and the Tampa Bay Rays would put up a spectacular show, one worthy of a World Series clincher.
“Go up and be a tough out and you never know what’s going to happen”. These were the words of Victor Martinez who brought in the tying and winning runs for the Indians in a 11-10 win. A 10-0 deficit at a point of the game was overcome by the Indians who scored an incredible 7 runs in the 9th inning. This included 6-runs being scored after two batters were out.
The largest comebacks in the ballpark, since the 12-run deficits against the Mariners in August, 2001, the Indians gave their fans something to cheer about in an otherwise dismal season.
“It was a strange game,” Ryan Garko said. “We were as low as you can get there [early on]. We felt as bad as you can feel as a team. And then we got to the highest of highs.” Garko’s 2-run home run in the fourth inning was crucial but not as decisive as his 3-run, out of the park hit in the ninth. Four relievers were used by the Devil Rays as 5 tribesman were walked.
“There was extreme fight,” manager Eric Wedge said, “and that’s what puts you in a position to win a game like this.”
The entire game was as wild as the ninth inning itself. 185 balls were thrown out of 421 pitches with 19 batters drawing walks on the evening. For the Indians, Fausto Carmona three 16 balls in 19 pitches in the second innings, walking 4-straight batters and giving away the first run of the day.
“It was extreme with Fausto today,” Wedge said. “He’s been pitching for a while now. He has to be better than that.”
The bullpen added to the misery initially, with Jensen Lewis giving away a 2-run, home run in the third to take the score to 7-0 for the Rays. Rich Rundles came on as a reliever and soon, was 2 down himself. Sowers was the only one who held his nerve out there and salvaged the night at the end.
Garko’s homer in the fifth was initially considered a consolation only as the game seemed completely out of hand. Dale Theyer’s 2-runs in the 8th also seemed in vain until the fireworks started in the final inning.
An ER came across in the ninth inning and after a batter out, Shin-Soo Choo had an opportunity at a double-play to shut the game out. Brignac took that moment to throw the ball away and the run came in. Suddenly, two runners were in scoring positions and the Rays got in Grant Balfour to replace Mark DeRosa after the second out.
At 10-5, Garko came on to close the gap. “We talked about just trying to get the tying run to the plate,” Garko said. “We wanted to keep it moving. Nobody wanted to make the last out.” At 1-1 on the pitches, Garko decided that it was time to bring the game alive and hit one into the left-field bleachers to make it 10-8.
Bases were empty and 2-batters were out, which meant that the Indians would have to start again from scratch. Asdrubal Cabrera walked up to the plate and after two balls, made up his mind to not hit anything on a night when walks seemed to be the mode of travel to first base. Promptly, 4-balls later, Cabrera was at first, Jason Isringhausen was walking to the pitcher’s mound and Ben Francisco walked up to the plate. The scenario repeated itself and Isringhausen was to blame as he gave Jarney Carroll who got the same treatment to load up the bases.
Grady Sizemore came in and walked after a 3-2 count to bring home a run. With the bases still loaded, on stepped the most prolific hitter for the Indians this season, Victor Martinez. At 2-2, Isringhausen threw a slider, Martinez grounded it down the middle and brought home a pair.
“This,” Martinez said, “was a big win for us.” And undoubtedly, one that won’t be forgotten easily on Memorial Day.