It is Throwback Thursday and the Cleveland Indians’ trip across country to Seattle sparks the incessant need to recall that wild August night that saw the Tribe mount the greatest comeback in the history of Major League Baseball against a Mariners team who eventually tied the league record with 116 wins on the season.
Heading into the fifth inning with a 12 run deficit, the Indians began pulling their starters in favor of the reserves – starting with Ellis Burks, then Roberto Alomar and Travis Fryman. Watching the Tribe throw in the towel, Seattle responded by benching Ichiro Suzuki, Edgar Martinez and John Olerud. At the seventh inning stretch, the score remained 14-2 and the reserves were in to finish off perceived meaningless innings.
Then the shocking comeback began – against the league’s most dynamic bullpen, no less.
Russell Branyan led off the bottom of the seventh with a solo home run and Jolbert Cabrera added a two-RBI single. Cleveland, again, added a leadoff home run in the eighth, this time by Jim Thomeand Marty Cordova clubbed a two-run dinger later in the inning. Omar Vizquel lined an RBI double to right to close the gap to 14-9 heading into the ninth inning.
After a leadoff single by Eddie Taubensee, the Mariners got two quick outs and remained ahead 14-9 with one out left.
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Cordero doubled. Wil Cordero walked and Einar Diaz drilled a full-count pitch to left to cut the lead to 14-11, bringing the tying run to the dish. Lofton singled to load the bases for Vizquel, who was hitting a mere.267 at the time.
Down to his final strike, Vizquel sent the eighth pitch of the at-bat down the right field line and into the corner, scoring all three Tribe base runners and knotting the game at 14.
Cleveland put together another rally in the 11th, started again by a single off the bat of Lofton. Vizquel followed with his fourth hit of the game before Cabrera stepped to the plate and delivered a first-pitch, broken-bat single to left field that plated Lofton.
Watch the madness unfold here:
What do you remember about this wildly unique performance?