Surprisingly, the Tribe had a fair amount of success against Johnson, arguably the AL’s most consistently dominant pitcher of his era. His 3.87 ERA is his second worst against teams he faced at least 25 times.
The Tribe’s regular season success against Johnson was highlighted by one of the worst starts of his career – when he gave up eight runs in just over an inning of work in Cleveland Stadium in 1993.
A few of the Indians most memorable moments of the 1990s came with Johnson on the mound.
The Jacobs Field Era began with Johnson nearly joining Bob Feller to become the only pitchers to toss a no-hitter on Opening Day. Johnson took a no-hitter into the 8th inning against the Tribe on April 4, 1994, before Sandy Alomar Jr. broke up the gem with a basehit. Manny Ramirez followed up with a two-run double, scoring Alomar and Candy Maldonado to tie the game, which the Indians would go on to win on a Wayne Kirby walk-off in extra innings.
A year later, Johnson was on the mound for Kenny Lofton‘s most memorable moment as an Indian.
The Indians faced Johnson twice during the 1995 ALCS. The Tribe lost Game 3, but won when he was out-dueled by Dennis Martinez in Game 6 to send the Tribe to the World Series.
The Indians faced Smoltz twice in the regular season, once as a closer in 2004 (he picked up a five-out save) and again as a starter in 2007 (he picked up a win, allowing two runs in six innings of work).
But the Tribe’s most memorable Smoltz moment came in Game 3 of the 1995 World Series, when he was knocked from the game in third inning, having already allowed six hits, two walks and four runs.
It was a key moment in the series, as the Indians returned to Cleveland down 2-0 to the Braves.
After Atlanta took a 1-0 leading in the top of the first off Charles Nagy, Lofton led off the bottom of the inning with a single, followed by an RBI triple from Omar Vizquel to tie the game. The Tribe would go on to win the game in extra innings.
Due to the early Interleague scheduling which matched up divisions, the Indians actually played 15 games against Biggio’s Astros, all between 1997 and 2001.
Nothing particularly noteworthy occurred in any of the games, but Biggio certainly owned the Indians.
In his 15 games against the Tribe, Biggio hit .383 with a .472 OBP and a 1.006 OPS. He hit one home run, a solo shot off Bartolo Colon at Jacobs Field in 2000.
After going hitless in his first game against the Tribe, Biggio put together a 14-game hit streak, which still ranks as the longest against the Tribe by a National League opponent.
Pedro dominated the Indians throughout his tenure in Boston, which Paul Hoynes detailed in a… hmm… not sure quite how to summarize it… article on how he forgot to cast a Hall of Fame ballot and why he hated Pedro Martinez.
In 16 regular season starts against the Tribe, Pedro went 11-1 with a 1.77 ERA. He struck out 146 Indians in just 117 innings pitched.
In the postseason, he allowed just three runs in 17 innings, highlighted, of course, by his six innings of no-hit ball to eliminate the Tribe in Game 5 of the 1999 ALDS. The game would prove to be the finale to Mike Hargrove‘s career in Cleveland and signaled the beginning of the end of the Indians era of dominance.
In total, the Red Sox were 16-3 against the Tribe when Pedro pitched. He out-pitched Nagy, Colon, Finley and many others, serving as a constant reminder of the Indians struggles to find a true ace in this era.