A Look Back At This Date In Cleveland Indians Playoff History; Sept. 29

USA TODAY Sports

The start of a daily post that will run through October that will review each of the Indians playoff games. First up, the original "The Catch" by Willie Mays and the 1998 ALDS opener.

September 29

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L

Pct

All-Time

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2

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Home

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1

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Road

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1

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Extra Innings

0

1

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Tuesday

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1

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Wednesday

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1

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Giants WS-1 1954

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1

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Red Sox ALDS-1 1998

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1

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1954 World Series Game 1, Polo Grounds V: Giants 5, Indians 2, 10 innings

The first game chronologically in this series is that infamous day back in 1954. Fresh off the most dominating regular season in the modern age (111-43), the Cleveland Indians had finished a ridiculous eight games ahead of the 103-51 New York Yankees. They then headed to the Big Apple, but to the Polo Grounds to take on a New York Giants team that won the National League by five games, but who still would have finished fourteen games behind the Tribe.

The game started off well, Al Smith was hit by a Sal Maglie pitch and went to third on right fielder Don Mueller's error on a Bobby Avila single. Maglie retired both Larry Doby and Al Rosen on popups, but Vic Wertz drilled one to deep right, scoring both and Wertz ending up with a triple. Dave Philley almost scored another on a deep fly, but Mueller caught it. The Giants got two on in the first off Bob Lemon, but they were stranded. They did tie it up in the third though on back to back knocks by Whitey Lockman and Al Dark, with Lockman scoring on a Mueller forceout. Lemon walked Willie Mays and Hank Thompson knocked in Mueller. The Giants threatened again in the fourth and the Indians threatened in the fifth, but neither broke the deadlock.

In the eighth, Doby led off with a single and Rosen worked a walk off Maglie. Don Liddle was called in to face Wertz. That is when one of the most famous World Series plays occurred. Wertz absolutely crushed one to deep center and this would have been a home run in any ball park not named the Polo Grounds. Mays took off on a sprint, caught it going away from home plate and in one motion threw the ball back in. Doby, incredibly was able to tag up and go to third even though he probably was almost to third in the first place. Marv Grissom came in and walked Dale Mitchell, loading the bases. Dave Pope pinch hit for shortstop George Strickland and struck out looking and Jim Hegan flied out to left to end the inning. Yes the Indians probably would have been up 5-2 in any other park, but the failure to get anyone home with the bases loaded and one out is that inning's crucial failure.

In the bottom of the eighth, Thompson worked a lead-off walk, was sacrificed and moved to third on a Lemon wild pitch but did not score. Grissom dodged a two-base error by Monte Irvin in the ninth. And in the tenth Wertz led off with a double, was sacrificed to third. After Pope was intentionally passed, Bill Glynn pinch hit for Hegan and struckout, while Lemon ended the inning with a liner to first baseman Lockman. In the bottom of the tenth, Lemon stuck out Mueller, but Mays worked a walk. He stole second off Lemon and backup catcher Mickey Grasso. Lemon walked Thompson intentionally. Then Leo Durocher sent up Dusty Rhodes to pinch hit for Irvin and he hit one out to right field that would have likely been caught in most other stadiums not named Polo Grounds due to the weird dimensions. Game over, 5-2, Giants.

1998 ALDS Game 1, Jacobs Field: Red Sox 11, Indians 3

The 1998 Indians won their division by nine games, but still only finished with a 89-73 record. The AL West champs the Rangers only won 88 games, so when the Tribe took on the Boston Red Sox in the Division Series, the Red Sox actually had a better record, at 92-70, who finished a whopping 22 games behind the 114-48 New York Yankees. As the division winner, they had home field advantage in the series. The home field advantage was for naught in Game 1 as Pedro Martinez was the starter for the Sox. After not being dealt for Martinez the previous offseason, Jaret Wright toed the rubber for the Tribe this evening.

Three batters into the top of the first and the Red Sox were up 3-0 on a Mo Vaughn deep shot to left field. Wright pitched ok until the fifth when Nomar Garciaparra tagged him for another three run bomb and after a single to Mike Stanley, Doug Jones was called in from the bullpen. He dodged a bases loaded jam after Wright left, but gave up a two run shot to Vaughn in the sixth and the Sox led 8-0.

Martinez was mowing down the Indian hitters, with only a Manny Ramirez single in the second (erased on a double play) and a Kenny Lofton leadoff single in the fourth. He struck out Jim Thome, Travis Fryman and Brian Giles all swinging in the fifth (he finished with eight whiffs). He showed he was still mortal in the sixth when Sandy Alomar doubled and Lofton hit a two run shot. After Thome smacked a sol shot in the seventh, the lead was now 8-3.

Steve Reed took over from Jones in the eighth, walked Mike Benjamin, hit Damon Buford and then John Valentin singled. Jim Poole came in to face Vaughn and Mo continued his great game, doubling in two more. Nomar hit a sacrifice fly off Paul Shuey to complete the scoring. Jim Corsi pitched the last two frames, retiring six of his seven batters with David Justice getting the only hit, a double. And the Tribe was down 1-0 in the series.

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