With the postseason rapidly approaching, the Cleveland Indians have brought the magic back to Progressive Field with three walk-offs this week.
With two games left to play in the regular season, the Cleveland Indians have found their magic once again. After dropping eight straight in the middle of September, the Indians have now rattled off six straight wins with three coming via the walk-off.
While the Jacobs Field moniker left the stadium in 2008, the magic still seems to be very much alive 12 years later as the Tribe are making a push to the postseason. While most fans had counted the Indians out in more ways than one, they have come back with a new energy that doesn’t quit.
With two games left in the season, the Indians still have a shot to win the AL Central, and it is in large part due to their late game heroics that have created immense momentum for the club.
We’ll go back to this past Tuesday (Sept. 22) against the Chicago White Sox. The Tribe needed a win to clinch a playoff berth, but late in the game it seemed like a stretch. At the time, the Indians had only one win over the previous two weeks against teams not named the Detroit Tigers.
Entering the bottom of the tenth down 3-1, it all seemed out of reach. The team wouldn’t clinch and the division wouldn’t even be a thought, but something clicked. With two outs in the inning, Francisco Lindor doubled to score Roberto Perez, who had started the inning on second. Cesar Hernandez then walked to bring Jose Ramirez to the plate with the Tribe down one and two on.
Ramirez belted his 17th home run of the season to walk-it-off against the White Sox and gave the Cleveland Indians their playoff berth. Little did fans know that this was just the beginning.
Jump to Wednesday night and the Indians found themselves in a similar situation, entering the bottom of the ninth in a 2-2 tie. This time, the hero proved to be the struggling Jordan Luplow with just his second home run of the season.
Finishing off the sweep against the White Sox, the Indians entered the weekend with their division hopes alive, but they needed to win-out, plus a little help from the Cincinnati Reds. However, the magic showed once again.
Going into the final frame down multiple runs again, the Indians found a way, and this time it was the bottom half of the order that did the damage.
Tyler Naquin started the inning with a walk before Luplow came through again, this time with an RBI double to score Naquin. Delino DeShields joined in with a single to score Luplow, tying the game. A line drive down the right field line was all that was needed from Hernandez to clinch the win and keep the Indians’ AL Central hopes alive.
One week, three walk-offs, three different players. The Indians offense has struggled this year, but this last week of games has been a much different narrative. The bats have come through when needed and it has felt a bit like the days of Jacobs Field and the magic that surrounded the teams of the late 1990s.
While most people don’t see a connection between the two clubs separated by over 20 years, there is one common ground. Sandy Alomar Jr.
If there’s anyone in the dugout that knows how to win when all odds are against them, it’s Alomar. He was a part of the teams that had success and knows that the Indians are never out of a game.
The other side of this is the new energy that seems to have reappeared within the team. If you are able to turn on any of the games, this team is having fun. Ramirez and Lindor are leading dugout chants and Franmil Reyes is mocking Andre Knott from the background of his interviews.
The overall feel around the team is a relaxed focus from the outside looking in. The team is just enjoying the game, which is translating to results on the field. There’s obviously a goal to win the division, but with the weight of making the playoffs lifted, the team is able to just simply play.
That relaxed focus is where this “magic of Jacobs Field” can come from. All of the other teams that had success had the same thing. It was apparent that they were enjoying the game, and the same can be said for this current group.
There’s only two games left in the season, but if the team can stay this hot, I wouldn’t want to be the team that has to face the Cleveland Indians in the Wild Card round, especially if the series is at Progressive Field.