The 2013 Indians had a magical season. It brought playoff baseball back to Cleveland for the first time in six years. Despite the argument brought up by many baseball fans about the Wild Card Game not being considered the playoffs, most notably former Tribe outfielder Kenny Lofton, I will always think of that Indians-Rays game as a playoff game.

The season was not entirely an easy run. It had its ups and downs. From the lack of production from newly-added free agents Michael Bourn and Nick Swisher, all the way to the Goon Squad’s walk offs. From heartbreak in the top of the 9th with Chris Perez on the hill, to the 10-game win streak at the end of September.

Who can forget a big turning point against in September against the White Sox? The Indians carrying a 2-1 lead going into the 9th inning. Perez blows the lead. I was sitting about seven rows back behind home plate that game. I remember many fans leaving because they had seen enough. That was before Michael Brantley and Jason Giambi had something to say about it. Brantley got the solid base hit, and Giambi took to the plate with two outs. Let’s put it in the words of great Indians radio announcer, Tom Hamilton:

“A SWING AND A DRIVE, TO DEEP RIGHT, A WAY BACK… GONE!!! JASON GIAMBI HAS DONE IT FOR THE SECOND TIME, OFF THE WHITE SOX! A WALK OFF-GAME WINNER! A TWO OUT, TWO RUN BLAST TO RIGHT. MARDI GRAS, IN SEPTEMBER, IN CLEVELAND.”

That win propelled the team to continue the win streak and going on to sweep Chicago, Houston, and Minnesota. We would await the winner of Texas and Tampa Bay’s “Game 163”. Led by ace David Price, Tampa Bay won and booked their ticket to Cleveland for October baseball.

The 2013 AL Manager of the Year, Terry Francona, called on rookie Danny Salazar to start the Wild Card Game. He had only appeared in 10 games that season, going 2-3 with a 3.12 ERA and 65 strikeouts. He would go up against Rays rookie Alex Cobb.

The sellout, standing room only, 43,000 strong crowd was ready for this game. The future of the season depended on it. There were times you could not even hear yourself think because it was so loud. There were times you could hear a pin drop because of the nervousness of what will happen next.

Unfortunately, we all know the outcome of this game. We all know about the lack of offensive production from our top hitters.

Last season may have been a magical one for us Tribe fans. Hopefully we can experience it again soon, and not just a one game Wild Card.

Roll Tribe.

-Ryan Hite, find me on Twitter @CST_ryanhite

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