For eight innings this was a game dominated by pitching, specifically Josh Peavy's pitching. Until the ninth inning, Peavy had only allowed one base runner, a fourth inning home run by Shin-Soo Choo. That was it; if not for the home run, Peavy would have gone into the ninth three outs from a perfect game.
Justin Masterson pitched well in his final start of the season, allowing one run on four hits, and more importantly, only walking one batter. This outing did come against a Chicago lineup that was playing out the string, but there that lineup, though considerably weaker than the one who faced Corey Kluber the night before, was stacked with left-handed hitters, Masterson's bane.
Chris Perez, who talked at length about Manny Acta before the game, came out for the ninth in order to preserve a 1-1 tie. He walked Dan Johnson, then gave up an absolute bomb of a home run to Dayan Viciedo, and just like that, the White Sox took a 3-1 lead. The home run was reminiscent of the home run Albert Belle hit against Lee Smith in 1995, a blast to center that seemed to gain height the farther it traveled. Viciedo has had problems this year with plate discipline, and he's been basically an all-or-nothing hitter. But when he connects, the ball rockets out of the yard, as evidenced by his grand slam on Monday and the two-run homer to center last night. He's only 23, and if he can figure out the strike zone a bit better, he has the potential to be a tremendous offensive player.
The next batter was backup catcher Tyler Flowers, and Perez hit him with a fastball on his upper shoulder, just six inches or so away from hitting his head. Flowers and the White Sox bench were understandably perturbed, especially given the context of the pitch. Perez to his credit understood that even though the pitch wasn't intentional, it certainly looked as though it was, and tried to defuse the situation (and avoid getting one of his teammates plunked) by talking with Flowers after the inning was over. Peavy didn't throw at anybody in the ninth, but there's still a meaninglessness game to come tonight, a perfect for retaliation if there ever was one.
So the Indians came to bat in the bottom of the ninth trailing 3-1 against a pitcher that they had barely touched all night. Michael Brantley, who has been sitting recently because of a tight groin, pinch hit and singled to start the inning (and has promptly replaced to avoid exacerbating the injury). Then Travis Hafner, who is probably in his few games in an Indians uniform pinch hit as well, representing the tying run. Hafner has been playing sporadically after returning from the DL, but even without regular playing time, he can still hit a baseball a long ways, as Peavy found out when he hung a slider on the middle of the plate. Pronk pulled the ball down the line for a game-tying home run. It was Hafner's 201st career home run, and his 200th as an Indian.
The game would go into extra innings, and in the 12th, Lonnie Chisenhall's double (off a left-hander) led to Jason Donald's game-winning hit. With the victory, the Indians clinched fourth place in the AL Central, meaning that they will pick as high as fifth in next year's draft, and could pick as low as sixth if the Indians win and the Marlins lose (Cleveland had a better record than Miami in 2011).