The Greatest Team Ever…Almost: The 1995 Cleveland Indians

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On September 8th, 1995 the Cleveland Indians clinched their spot in playoffs.  It was the first time since 1954 that the Indians would be in the playoffs.  They became the first team that year to clinch a postseason spot, and would go on to win the AL Central by the largest margin ever, 30.0 games!  This is going to be a 3-part series looking back at what could have been considered the greatest baseball team ever, the 1995 Cleveland Indians.  Today is Part 1: The Season and the Postseason.  Tomorrow is Part 2: The World Series.  Wednesday is the final day, Part 3: The Players and Achievements.

Season Review:

The 1994 Major League Baseball season ended on August 10th for the Cleveland Indians, as they beat the Toronto Blue Jays by a score of 5-3. The Indians started off that season going 14-17 and it looked as if the Indians still might have been a year or two away, but from May 13th on the Indians exploded and finished the season going 52-30. It looked like the Cleveland Indians were finally going to end their 39 year playoff drought. However on August 11th, the Major League season came to an end, as a players’ strike doomed the season. On September 14th, Bud Selig cancelled the rest of the regular season along with the postseason. Major League Baseball would be without a World Series for the first time since 1904. Then finally, after 232 days without baseball, the players’ strike came to an end, and on April 27, 1995 baseball returned to Cleveland (actually it returned in Texas at The Ballpark in Arlington).

 
The Indians beat the Texas Rangers on Opening Day 11 to 6 with Eddie Murray, Manny Ramirez, Carlos Baerga, Paul Sorrento, and Albert Belle all hitting home runs. Dennis Martinez wound up as the winning pitcher for the Tribe, going 6 innings, allowing 2 runs on 4 hits and striking out 3. The Indians would then go on to lose their next two games to fall to a 1-2 record. This would be the last time the Indians would be under .500 all season. The Indians finished the month of May with a record of 21-9, and by June their record was 41-17. At the end of July they stood at 59-26. Finishing out the dog days of August, the Indians had no trouble as they brought their record up to 80-35. September was definitely a month to remember as they clinched the American League Central on the 123rd game of the season, becoming the fastest team to ever clinch a division in baseball history. They finished September with a record of 99-44; with one more game remaining they had a chance to win game number 100 on October 1st. The Cleveland Indians were going for win number 100 against the Kansas City Royal at Jacobs Field in front of a crowd of 41,819. The Indians made quick work of the Royals by racing out to an 11-0 lead by the end of the second inning, the Indians wound up winning by a final score of 17 to 7, and their next step was postseason baseball.

The Postseason:

October 3rd, Cleveland, Ohio, Red Sox versus Indians, Roger Clemens and Dennis Martinez; playoff baseball back in Cleveland for the first time in 40 years. A crowd of 44,218 was quieted when John Valentin hits a 2-run home run in the top of the 2nd. Then, in the bottom of 6th, Omar Vizquel draws a 2-out walk, followed by a Carlos Baerga single. Up to the plate steps Albert Belle who swats a 2-out, 2-run RBI double, tying the game at 2-2. It wasn’t over just yet as “Steady” Eddie Murray singles to right to put the Indians up 3-2, until a Lee Tinsley solo home run in the top of the 8th ties the game. It continued deep into the night, when in the bottom of the 13th Tony Pena hit a ball deep to right and out, ballgame, the Indians win game 1 of the ALDS. They would then go on to win games 2 and 3 by the scores of 4-0 and 8-2 to move on the ALCS.

 
Game 1 of the ALCS went to the Seattle Mariners by a score of 3-2. In game 2, however, the duo of Manny Ramirez and Orel Hershiser turned out to be too much for the Mariners to handle. Manny ended up going 4-4 with 2 home run and 2 RBI’s, while Hershiser pitched 8 innings of 1 run baseball, allowing 4 hits and striking out 7 leading the Tribe to a 5-2 victory. In game 3, the series shifted to Cleveland, where the Indians had a 54-18 record during the regular season. However, it was the Mariners that seemed to have the Jacobs Field magic on that night, scoring 3 runs in the top of the 11th and winning by a score of 5-2. The Indians ended game 4 early, jumping out to a 6-0 lead in the 3rd inning and eventually winning 7-0 to tie the series at 2. The Jacobs Field magic was on the Indians’ side in game 5, when in the bottom of the 6th, with Eddie Murray on second, Jim Thome slugged a home run to deep right field to give the Indians a 3-2 lead, one that the Indians held on to, taking a 3-2 series lead. Game 6 brought the matchup of El Presidente, Dennis Martinez, and The Big Unit, Randy Johnson. The night belonged to the Indians as Martinez pitched 7 innings of shutout baseball, allowing only 4 hits, while the Tribe batsmen were able to get to Johnson for 4 runs over 7.1 innings, as the Indians won the game 4-0 and were heading to the World Series for the first time since 1954.

Highlights!
Albert Belle’s 50th home run: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hP1t2HEawm8
Indians clinch AL Pennant: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NjTQ-tnwNq0
Thome’s go-head home run in Game 5 of ALCS: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tvKyJslo-G4
Indians clinch Division: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8SIaGg8jpsY
Tony Pena’s walk off game 1 ALDS home run: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xyC4myYv5IU
ALCS game 2, Manny hit 2 home runs: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6NcNfgvLtfU
Manny befuddles Dennis Eckersley: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cgyrGsw6aMg
Albert Belle grand slam walk off home run: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pLVOPjKVoAA

Tomorrow: Part 2: The World Series

— Chris Sladoje (@CST_Doje)

Photo via buzzfeed.com

 

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