I attended Wednesday night’s Indians-White Sox game. It was Parma Night at Progressive Field, and Parma residents (well, anyone who wanted to, really) had the chance to buy bleacher seats for $10 from the Parma department of parks and recreation. I bought a block of 11 tickets: five seats in section 181, row M, and six seats in section 181, row N. It was nice seeing the game with ten friends, most of whom I’ve known for many years. I should note here that I’m no philanthropist: I was reimbursed for the other ten tickets.
At some point, in the fourth or fifth inning, the Indians intern pictured in this post came to our section of the bleachers waving the sign you see here, and chanting “Let’s!” Later in the game, she came back out with two colleagues, one bearing a sign saying “GO” and the other with a sign saying “TRIBE.” But for a while, she was out there on her own, holding that sign and saying “Let’s! Let’s!” over and over again.
My friends and I all thought that was hilarious, yet somehow inspirational as well. We took up the chant with enthusiasm, shouting “Let’s! Let’s!” One of our party went so far as to work up gestures for the word, in homage to the way that fans form “O-H-I-O” with their arms when “Hang On, Sloopy” is played in the eighth inning. Before too long, we found that lots of other people in our section were joining in on the fun.
And why not? After five innings, the Indians had a 3-0 lead over the White Sox. Indians starter Corey Kluber had been in command, giving up only three hits while walking none. Unfortunately, Kluber ran into some trouble in the sixth inning, giving up hits to four of the first five batters he faced in the frame. The last three hits each drove in a run, tying the score at 3-3, which put a damper on our enthusiasm. But Kluber bore down after that, retiring the next ten hitters.
After retiring Adam Dunn and Paul Konerko in the ninth, the score still tied at 3-3, Kluber gave up a single to Conor Gillaspie. Indians manager Terry Francona yanked Kluber and brought in Cody Allen to pitch. This proved to be a bad idea, as Allen promptly loaded the bases by giving up a hit to Dayan Viciedo and a walk to Gordon Beckham. He then ran the count to 3-0 to the next batter, Jeff Keppinger, thus failing to throw a strike in seven consecutive pitches. Being no fool, Keppinger took the next two pitches in the hope that he’d walk in the go-ahead run. But they were both strikes, and with the count 3-2, Kluber threw a pitch down the middle of the plate, and Keppinger connected with it for a single, driving in the runners on second and third and giving the Sox a 5-3 lead. Allen struck out the next batter, but things looked bleak for the Indians in their half of the ninth.
But where there is life, there is hope. And Michael Brantley started the inning by doubling off White Sox reliever Addison Reed. Jason Giambi, pinch-hitting, was then hit by a pitch. After trotting down to first, and thus representing the tying run, the ancient and slow Giambi was replaced by Lonnie Chisenhall. Drew Stubbs then laid down a bunt with the aim of getting Brantley to third and Chisenhall to second. Which they did, but Stubbs also beat out the throw to first for a infield single. Michael Bourn and Jason Kipnis each drove in a run with sacrifice flies, each man giving the ball a ride deep into the outfield. With the game tied at 5-5 and the winning run at third base, Asdrubal Cabrera, who had gone 0 for 4 to that point, then struck out.
Shall we play extra innings? Let’s!
Chris Perez came on to pitch the tenth inning for the Tribe. He retired the first two batters before hitting Adam Dunn with a pitch. Paul Konerko, who throughout his career has feasted on Indians pitching, struck out looking.
Dylan Axelrod replaced Reed. With the count 3-2, Carlos Santana smacked the ball over the right-field fence, giving the Indians yet another walk-off victory, 6-5. It was a fine thing indeed to watch the Indians mob Santana as he crossed home plate. Perez, who had a very solid July—one earned run in 14 innings pitched, three walks allowed, ten strikeouts—was credited with the win, his fourth of the season.
The Indians’ winning streak, their longest of the season, now stands at seven. They are a season-high 11 games over .500. They have won the four-game series against the Sox, and can sweep with a victory this afternoon, when Justin Masterson, the staff ace, goes up against the not-traded-after-all Chris Sale, whom the Indians have faced, and beaten, twice already this season.
Dare we hope the Indians can pull off the sweep? Let’s!