Any day the Cleveland Indians inflict pain on the New York Yankees is a great day. August 31, 2004 was one of the greatest days ever.
On Tuesday, August 31, 2004 the Cleveland Indians arrived in New York for the first of a three-game set against the Yankees.
As recently as August 14 the Indians had been one game out of first in the Central. But a nine-game losing streak moved them to eight games back and effectively ended their 2004 postseason hopes.
But any time you play the Yankees you have motivation
Then the game started.
Good things come in threes
Indians 3, Yankees 0.
After a quick three-batter pause for the Yankees the Indians come up in the second.
Ronnie Belliard – ground rule double. Jody Gerut – walk. Coco Crisp flies out, advancing Belliard to third. Omar Vizquel gets his second hit of the day, scoring Belliard and moving Gerut to third. Matt Lawton singles to score Gerut and move Vizquel to third.
The Yankees replace Vasquez with Tanyon Sturtze. File that under “it seemed like a good idea at the time.”
Victor Martinez drives in Omar with a sac fly. Hafner then grounds out.
Indians 6, Yankees 0.
Three more quick Yankee outs, and we’re in the third inning.
Blake walks, Broussard walks, Belliard flies out, Gerut flies out, Coco scores Broussard with a single, and Omar Vizquel gets his third hit in as many innings, a two-run double.
Indians 9, Yankees 0
At this point Omar is on pace for a nine-hit game and the Indians are on pace for a 27-0 win. The end results weren’t quite that great, but they were good enough.
The fourth inning
Nobody scored. The Yankees finally got a hit in the fourth though. It’s the little things.
The fifth inning, where the Indians get back to averaging three runs per inning
Broussard – ground rule double. Belliard – double scoring Broussard. Gerut flies out. Coco Crisp home run. Omar Vizquel up – they’re not getting him out. Another single.
C. J. Nitkowski replaces Tanyon Sturtze.
Lawton flies out. Martinez walks. Hafner an infield single. Casey Blake a bases loaded walk. Ben Broussard a two-run single. Belliard strikes out.
Six more runs, and it’s Indians 15, Yankees 0 after five.
The sixth inning: Indians slow down, Omar does not
Jody Gerut walks, Coco Crisp grounds into a force play. Coco advances on a wild pitch. Then Omar Vizquel gets his FIFTH hit of the game, a run scoring double.
Indians 16, Yankees 0.
Innings seven and eight: Indians stop scoring, but Omar keeps hitting
In the top of the eighth Omar gets his SIXTH hit of the day – a single to center. No runs scored.
The ninth inning: A glorious cherry on top of the Yankee beatdown Sundae
Esteban Loaiza took over in the seventh inning. Loaiza came over to New York from the White Sox in a deadline deal. Jose Contreras and cash to the White Sox for Loaiza. The Yankees thought they were getting a good starter. They were wrong. Loaiza went 1-2 with an 8.50 ERA for the Yankees. He made six starts before being banished to the bullpen.
After two scoreless innings it’s possible that Loaiza thought he was on the right track. He was not.
John McDonald started the ninth with a ground out. Josh Phelps then singled. Ronnie Belliard singled. Jody Gerut hit a three-run home run. Coco Crisp walked.
This brought Omar Vizquel to the plate with a chance to make history. No American League player in history had recorded a seven-hit game (in nine innings). Rennie Stennett did it for the Pirates in 1975 when they beat the Cubs 22-0 (it just keeps getting better).
Sadly it was not to be. Omar flew out to right field. This was bad, but at least it gave Loaiza one fond moment to look back on when he thought about his time in the Bronx.
Omar was done, but the Tribe was not. Ryan Ludwick walked and Victor Martinez hit a home run.
Fast forward to 2009
The Yankees open their brand new Yankee stadium, hosting the 2-7 Indians. The Indians drop a nine spot on the Yankees in the seventh inning and spoil the opener 10-1. Two days later the Indians prove that 22 is indeed their lucky number, beating the Yankees 22-4.