There was a lot to cheer for in Cleveland this year. Coming off an AL Pennant, the Indians easily won their second consecutive Central Division championship and threw a 22 game winning streak in for good measure. While much of credit belongs to the pitching staff, there were plenty of big offensive moments to remember as well. The ten videos to follow were my favorite, but if you have another, be sure to tell me @BurningRiverBB on twitter or on facebook.
10. August 1st: The Comeback that Almost Was
The only loss in the top ten, this game against Boston brought back awful memories from the 2016 post-season as the Indians crawled back just to lose it in the ninth. Heading into the top of the ninth, Cleveland was down 9-8, but down 0-2, Francisco Lindor tied the game with solo shot to lead off the inning. After two were out, the Indians then loaded the bases on two hits and a walk, then scored the go ahead run on a wild pitch.
However, the Red Sox had a very similar comeback brewing as, with two outs, Christian Vazquez took Cody Allen deep to walk it off for the Sox. Despite the ending, this may have been the single most entertaining game of the season as it including great defense (including the likely play of the year) as well as blown saves from Andrew Miller, Craig Kimbrel and Allen, something that may never happen again.
9. August 28th: Running for a Run
The Indians had just taken the lead against New York earlier in the seventh on a Carlos Santana solo shot when Bradley Zimmer hit a single. After Yan Gomes struck out for the second out in the inning, Zimmer stole second, went to third on the over throw and scored on a wild pitch, giving the Indians an insurance run with nothing more than his legs. Overall, it was a great game for Zimmer who also had a double and a nice catch in center.
8. July 22nd: Just Another Walk Off
Ho hum, this was just another walk off moon shot from Francisco Lindor. In the rain, in the 10th inning after the Indians hadn’t scored for five straight.
7. August 21st: Sac Socks Sox
How does a sacrifice bunt make it into the top ten most exciting offensive plays of the year? When it’s a walk off. The Indians tied the game at four in the 8th with an Edwin Encarnacion single, then Cody Allen kept Boston off the board in the top of the ninth. Brandon Guyer started the bottom half with a double off Brandon Workman, then Roberto Perez attempted to move him over with a sac bunt. It wasn’t a great bunt as it went right back to the pitcher, but first baseman Brock Holt cut in front of Workman, attempting to nab Guyer at third. The throw was low and got by Rafael Devers, allowing Guyer to take an extra base and run off with the win.
6. April 11th: A Home Opener to Remember
Even though the Indians already had swept a series in Texas and been swept in Arizona, for many Tribe fans, the season really begins at the home opener. With the celebratory atmosphere of a new beginning, things are already ramped up a notch, but the Indians made this year’s home opener extra special with an extra inning, walk off win.
Going into the 10th tied at one, Francisco Lindor worked a walk off a full count after the first two hitters struck out. Already down to the last strike in the inning once, Michael Brantley worked a full count as well before roping a double down the line. As Lindor was able to run with the pitch, he scored the game winning run all the way from first.
5. September 10th: Mr. Smile
While not obviously important at the time as many of these walk off hits or go ahead home runs, this was one of the coolest plays of the season and ended up being just as important. The Indians came into the 6th tied with Baltimore, then Roberto Perez gave the Tribe the lead with a solo home run. Francisco Lindor came up next and broke his bat on a foul ball. With no other Lindor bats in the dugout, he asked Abraham Almonte for a replacement. This bat was significantly heavier than the normal Lindor model, but after a few practice swings, Lindor got a meat ball and deposited it well into the right field stands. The Indians ended up winning by only one run, so the hit was huge in the end, but Lindor’s smile before he even made contact was what made it onto this list.
4. August 8th: Going, Going, Gomes
In this game, the Rockies scored first with one run in the top of the first, then 16 empty frames followed. Still down one in the bottom of the ninth, Greg Holland walked two batters, then Austin Jackson knocked in pinch runner Brandon Guyer to tie the game. A common thread in many of these plays, Yan Gomes then went above and beyond. He could have won the game with a sacrifice fly or a single. Instead, he crushed a home run over the wall in left to score three and walk off.
3. April 5th: You Won’t Like Me When I’m Angry
It seems a lifetime ago now, but the Indians began this season with a sweep of the Texas Rangers including some of the most exciting offensive performances of the season. Lindor’s in game three may have been the most fun as he committed an error, then came back with two home runs. His second came down one run in the ninth, after Abraham Almonte had walked to load the bases. Lindor crushed his second home run of the night (and the season), one from each side of the plate, proving that he can hit just as well when he’s angry as he can when he’s happy.
2. July 25th: Double the Slams, Double the Fun
The Indians went in front early in this game against LA, scoring seven in the second including a grand slam from Bradley Zimmer. The Angels worked their way back, however, and by the 6th the game was tied. It would stay tied until the 11th, when the Angels learned why loading the bases with none out for Encarnacion is probably a bad strategy. He could have just hit a sac fly to walk off, but he went a little bit further, hitting the Indians second grand slam of the game out to left.
1. September 14th: 2B Breaks 2-2 Tie for 22
There’s no question that the most exciting part of this season for the Tribe was the 22 game winning streak that not only set a new AL record for consecutive wins, but essentially locked up the AL Central and home field advantage throughout the play-offs.
While most of those 22 games were blowouts, the final win in the set was an extremely close played game with Kansas City. They went into the 9th down one and, with one out left in the game, Francisco Lindor doubled home the game tying run. In the 10th, Jose Ramirez had an incredible double that most would have taken an easy single on, then, after an Encarnacion walk, Jay Bruce doubled home Ramirez to win the game.