The Cleveland Indians cap an amazing September with a playoff-clinching victory in Game 162

Hannah Foslien

Sitting here three hours after that final out, the enormity of what the Indians have accomplished is really hitting me. A year ago a lot of what you read here would have been about drastic changes in the organization, perhaps another rebuilding period, trades for prospects, and all the painful things that happen after a 96-loss season. Fan interest in the team was at its nadir.

September 29, 2013

Indians 5, Twins 1

But then, in those darkest days, things began to turn around. It didn't happen all at once, and it wasn't obvious at the time, though you can certainly point to Terry Francona's hiring as the line a demarcation between eras of Indians baseball. And though we didn't know it at the time, the hiring of Mickey Callaway as pitching coach was another huge reason why we're celebrating a playoff berth today. And then, after trading Shin-Soo Choo away, Nick Swisher decided to sign here, and then momentum really started to build. There was that minor trade of Esmil Rogers to Toronto for a backup middle infielder and what was considered a marginal catching prospect. There was the surprise signing of Michael Bourn late in the year (thanks to Pittsburgh failing to sign their 2012 first rounder), but also the less-herald signings or Scott Kazmir and Ryan Raburn and even Jason Giambi. Progress was being made at Ubaldo Jimenez's home in the Dominican Republic, but what exactly that progress was wouldn't be known until well into the season.

In other words, there was not one thing that led to today, but many many things. Were there missteps? Absolutely there were, but each step back seemed to lead to two steps foreward. Brett Myers was a disaster, but it led to Corey Kluber getting a chance. Mark Reynolds had that great month, but then he stopped hitting and ended his season with the New York Yankees. Carlos Carrasco was awful in the rotation, but then he pitched better in relief. Trevor Bauer proved that he wasn't ready for the big leagues, but then Danny Salazar proved that he was. Chris Perez and Vinnie Pestano had poor seasons, but Cody Allen had a breakout season, and guys like Bryan Shaw and midseason acquisition Mark Rzepczynski picked up the slack. I could on and on.

But even though this season was thought a success, they still entered the month of September on the outside looking in. On the morning of September 1st, the Indians had lost five in a row, was seven games behind then-AL West-leading Texas, and 3.5 behind Tampa Bay. But they won that Sunday in Detroit, and took the Baltimore series, and then the Mets series, and then stuff started to get real. The front-loaded schedule finally began to ease up, but because they were so far back, they couldn't afford any missteps. And even, worse, Justin Masterson was out with a strained oblique, an injury that usually takes 4-6 weeks to recover from.

But then help came from a very unexpected source. Ubaldo Jimenez had been pitching very well in the second half, but after Masterson's injury he suddenly turned back into the pitcher that dominated the National League in 2007. And as the Indians continued to win, Terry Francona used the remaining off days to set up things so that Jimenez would be pitching on the final day of the season if needed. Well, he was needed, and boy, did he come through.

Ubaldo Jimenez gave up a hit to the first batter of the game, and after that retired the next 17 batters that he faced. He got into a bit of trouble the sixth, but struck out Trevor Plouffe with runners on second and third. Then he got into more trouble in the seventh, allowed a run, and was pulled. Scrabble struck out pinch-hitter Chris Colabello to end the threat, meaning that Jimenez's final line looks like this:

6.2 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 13 SO

In what was in essence a playoff game, Jimenez rose to the occasion, finishing off a run almost unprecedented in franchise history. His second-half ERA ranks up there with what Bob Lemon did in 1954 and 1956, and anytime you get yourself into a comparison with Lemon then you've done something special.

On offense the Indians got onto the board in the first inning with the hits provided by the two big free agent signings last winter. Michael Bourn led off with a sharp single up the middle, and Swisher (who not coincidentally was hitting right-handed) drove a two-run homer just over the wall in left field. The score remained 2-0 until the 6th inning, when two Twins errors handed the Indians a couple runs on a silver platter. Carlos Santana reached on throwing error, and after a Ryan Raburn bloop fell in, Asdrubal Cabrera laid down a sacrifice bunt. Twins starter Scott Diamond threw the ball away, allowing Santana to score and Raburn to go to third. Yan Gomes drove home Raburn with a sacrifice fly.

After Scrabble got the first batter of the eighth inning, Justin Masterson came into the game. And although he at times was wild, he got through the eighth and came out for the ninth. So the guy who threw the first Tribe pitch of the season would throw the last pitch. With two outs in the ninth, Clete Thomas hit a grounder that got past Nick Swisher, but Jason Kipnis made a fine diving stop and threw to Masterson for the playoff-clinching out. Masterson held the ball up as the team converged on the infield, celebrating an amazing season. They had to go 10-0 to end the season to avoid playing a tiebreaker, and they did it, becoming the first club to pull off that feat since the 1971 Baltimore Orioles.

How this season ultimately ends is yet to be determined. The journey that started in early April could end this Wednesday, or it could end much later than that. But regardless of how it ends, it will have been a journey to relish.

Roll Call: 94 Commenters

Total comments: 1,774

Game Thread 1

Game Thread 2

Post-game Thread

# Commenter # Comments

1 tgriffith1992 119
2 Turkmenbashi 105
3 PyroKinesis 103
4 Gradyforpresident 88
5 johnf34 88
6 supermarioelia 80
7 V-Mart Shopper 62
8 Ockus_NYC 58
9 Danieldelamaiz 53
10 tr1betime 52
11 barsham 49
12 JulioBernazard 46
13 ferris84 46
14 LosIndios 44
15 YoDaddyWags 44
16 Denver Tribe Fan 39
17 Cols714 39
18 Zaza Braggins 37
19 Matt Y. 32
20 APV 31
21 Jay 31
22 xrickx 31
23 Mr. Bad Example 28
24 Jason Lukehart 26
25 kennesawmountainwahoo 22
26 mtg8 21
27 world dictator 21
28 7foot3 21
29 JamesPowell 21
30 emily522 21
31 Joel D 19
32 jhon 17
33 tabler84 17
34 woodsmeister 16
35 gte619n 16
36 ahowie 15
37 mauichuck 14
38 DocNo 14
39 themadlibs 11
40 greatnorthern 10
41 notthatnoise 9
42 janic_13 9
43 OPace 9
44 Vachos 8
45 Fire Slider 8
46 roar888 8
47 emd2k3 8
48 talonk 7
49 new zealand tribe fan 7
50 HireRockyColavito 7
51 Ryan 6
52 playdoh 6
53 baerga1 5
54 Mr.Conic 5
55 ethorn 4
56 palcal 3
57 joeee 3
58 rolub 3
59 9James 3
60 Fundamentals 3
61 ramblinwreckcle 3
62 CU Adam 3
63 ZeCarioca 3
64 prsancho 2
65 tribefan62812 2
66 BuenosAires_Dawg 2
67 Brad D 2
68 NatiTribeFan 2
69 CTTribe73 2
70 justin.rusnak 1
71 no1ever 1
72 hans 1
73 Gophermike 1
74 InfiniteMonkeyTypists 1
75 #RollTribe 1
76 NickFantana 1
77 Spidey 1
78 T.O. Tribe 1
79 John H IL 1
80 haymister 1
81 pdxtribefan 1
82 kendaru.geter 1
83 Toxicadam 1
84 madherb 1
85 fidougle 1
86 col323 1
87 PortlandVinny 1
88 _thenick 1
89 kuzzy 1
90 jimvols 1
91 NoChorus 1
92 cleveland teamer 1
93 TFIS 1
94 drerikbrady 1
X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join Let's Go Tribe

You must be a member of Let's Go Tribe to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Let's Go Tribe. You should read them.

Join Let's Go Tribe

You must be a member of Let's Go Tribe to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Let's Go Tribe. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9351_tracker